Saturday, May 01, 2010

Historical/Fictional Memoirs of Favorite Authors

I've been reading a lot of good books lately which usually means I'm writing less. Such has been the case the past several months. During the school year, it comes down to a choice between those two passions once the school work is done for the night. Books have been ruling so far this spring, with good reason.

Take the book I just finished, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees. I loved it! And not just because I love Louisa May Alcott (which I do). Even though Kelly writes about an author I've been reading since grade school when I devoured her books one after the other and then back again, it was obvious that she both knew and loved her, too. I felt as if I were seeing an old friend through the eyes of a new one.

The story is one that grabs your attention immediately if you're one who likes behind the scenes kind of stuff (which I do). It answers the question: was there a "Laurie" in Louisa's life. We don't know. Nor does Kelly. But she spins a wonderfully warm and wise story considering one possibility from the summer Louisa and her family spent in Walpole, NH.

Grounded in fact, Kelly's book takes us deep into the heart and mind of this most endearing and independent chronicler of 19th century family life. And while I didn't learn anything new about the actual facts (but only because I have read so much about her myself), I loved every minute of the imagined love affair between Louisa and the possible model for "Laurie." Having played Jo in a production of Little Women years ago, I know a little something about getting into her head, but this experience far surpassed anything I tried to do. Such a good read!!!

Which, actually, brings me back to writing. The books I've been reading lately, the good books, have all been about writers I love, have all been efforts to take us into the minds of these writers and see what inspired the works we've come to love. Most recently, I read Syrie James' The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Both gave fantastic insights into two other favorite authors of mine.

As with Kelly's book, Syrie bases as much as possible in fact and then poses possible answers to the questions readers have asked for many years. The concept appealed to me immediately. I devoured all three books. These two authors have not disappointed.

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