Review of The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott

Elise Hooper

William Morrow

September 5, 2017

Historical Fiction

Blurb: Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.

We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely The Other Alcott.

“Elise Hooper’s thoroughly modern debut gives a fresh take on one of literature’s most beloved families. To read this book is to understand why the women behind Little Women continue to cast a long shadow on our imaginations and dreams. Hooper is a writer to watch!”—Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | HarperCollins | IndieBound


I’m always a little amazed when people tell me how often they’ve read some books. I wonder why they would want to expend that much time when there are sooooo many books. Except when it comes to Little Women, which I have read multiple times, but must confess to not having read in years. So, yup, that’s my double standard.

Elise Hooper’s The Other Alcott is like taking a behind the scenes look at the beloved Louisa May Alcott novel, while focusing on May and her artistic endeavors. Although The Other Alcott is written as fiction, there is enough fact woven throughout so that you almost feel like you’re reading May’s biography. If you have any interest in art, this is a fascinating journey.

The detail regarding art and the climate of art for women in the late 1800’s is well-researched and presented, informative without bogging down the reader with superfluous detail. You can feel May’s frustration and doubt as she tried to learn and harness her talent. She never allowed herself to fail.

And then late in life, she fell in love and had the romance she had always dreamed she would have, although the circumstances are definitely different than she probably imagined they would be.

This one is for all of you who loved Little Women. I suspect it is Hooper’s love letter, homage, to that novel. But The Other Alcott  also for those of you who want to read a partly fictionalized account of a woman who strove to create art in a world where women were only just beginning to receive opportunities and even those were limited.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

rating: 4-and-a-half

4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies


About Elise Hooper

Although a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise now lives with her husband and two young daughters within stone-skipping distance of the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound. When she’s not writing, she’s in her classroom making American history and literature interesting for high school students. Want to try your hand at creating a pitch for Shark Tank: Colonial America Edition? Stop by her classroom.

The Other Alcott is Elise’s debut novel and will be released by William Morrow/Harper Collins in September 2017.

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