The Little Women Letters
By Gabrielle Donnelly
With her older sister, Emma, planning a wedding and her younger sister, Sophie, preparing to launch a career on the London stage, Lulu can't help but feel like the failure of the Atwater family. Lulu loves her sisters dearly and wants nothing but the best for them, but she finds herself stuck in a rut, working dead-end jobs with no romantic prospects in sight. When her mother asks her to find a cache of old family recipes in the attic of her childhood home, Lulu stumbles across a collection of letters written by her great-great-grandmother Josephine March. In her letters, Jo writes in detail about every aspect of her life: her older sister, Meg's, new home and family; her younger sister Amy's many admirers; Beth's illness and the family's shared grief over losing her too soon; and the butterflies she feels when she meets a handsome young German. As Lulu delves deeper into the lives and secrets of the March sisters, she finds solace and guidance, but can the words of her great-great-grandmother help Lulu find a place for herself in a world so different from the one Jo knew?
Growing up, I wasn't a huge fan of Louisa May Alcott's stories, but I was a fan. Unlike my friends and family I didn't re-read Little Women over and over. One reading was the perfect number for me. So when I had the opportunity to review The Little Women Letters it was a journey that I had not been on for a very long time and it was a joy! As author Gabrielle Donnelly surely wanted, I identified with Lulu, the finder of the "Jo" letters.
I saw Lulu as the underachiever in her family, one of three sisters and the one still struggling to find her way into the world. Ms. Donnelly writes a great story, her many characters are all clearly drawn and developed. The plot flows smoothly and envelopes the reader so that you bounce between the world that is spoken of, with such detail in Jo's letters and the world of the present day Atwater family.
My only "issue" as it were, is that I was at times drawn more to the letters than to the present day story. Maybe that's what Ms. Donnelly wanted. Maybe not, but it's what I most enjoyed and found myself most looking forward to reading. But then, I am on record here confessing in other reviews, of being a lover of books full of letters written years ago. One of my favorite books of all time is 84 Charing Cross Road by the brilliant Helene Hanff. That tells you a lot about this book lover.
All in all, I enjoyed the read with Ms. Donnelly's THE LITTLE WOMEN LETTERS and think you will too! Be sure to share it with other Louisa May Alcott lovers and get a group together to talk about the two stories of the three Atwater sisters and the four March sisters. I think it's well worth the time!
3 out of 5 stars
This galley was provided to me by the publisher and in no way affected my review.