Add another great historical fiction novel to the growing list from Michaela MacColl focusing on famous women. In The Revelation of Louisa May, MacColl imagines a mystery for Louisa May Alcott to solve, and in the process brings to life the town of Concord, Massachusetts, where she lived for much of her life. (Read the author’s blog post about the book.)
As in real life, Alcott is friends and neighbors with some of the greatest writers of their time: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It’s known that the Alcotts were abolitionists active with the Underground Railroad, and MacColl creates a story that involves a runaway slave, a slave catcher, a list of unsavory characters, and quite a few people with secrets to hide.
Louisa appears in the novel as a spunky 17 year old who knows that like her idols Thoreau and Emerson, she wants to be writer. In a family that is often short on money, she also knows she wants her writing to support her and those she loves. Because women of her time were expected to marry, stay home, and manage the children and the household, she has to reject tradition to pursue what she wants. Louisa grapples with conflicting emotions as she tries to work out the mystery that develops during the story.
The Revelation of Louisa May is fun and fast-paced and provides a bit of insight into the historical life of the beloved writer of many stories, Little Women being the best known. I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 12 and up.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.