I have been a fan of all-things-Alcott since childhood so I was particularly excited to receive a copy of Little Woman in Blue, Jeannine Atkins' novel about May Alcott. Atkins did not disappoint.
In Little Women, the youngest sister, Amy is the real life May Alcott. Readers of Little Women may well remember that Amy was portrayed as a spoiled and coddled child. Atkins has presented an altogether different image of that same Alcott sister—one of determination, drive, passion, creativity and courage.
In an era where no one had yet heard of a "glass ceiling," May Alcott was determined to break the glass ceiling. At a time when most female artists were forced to trade their artistic ambitions for marriage and child-rearing, she aspired to have it all. And she did! Daring to leave behind her home in America to experience the world of art in Paris, May finds that her art is not only accepted but given the prestigious honor of being placed on exhibition at the Salon. May Alcott takes her rightful place as a talented artist, proving that even in the 19th century, passion, drive and persistence pay off and a woman CAN have it all!
From the very beginning, I was magically transported to 19th century Concord. Atkins' extensive research is gently mixed with lively and very believable dialogue between Louisa and May as each of these creative sisters hone their craft. Atkins lends authenticity to the people and places in her story, making it a sheer delight. She has brought to life the person, places and time of May Alcott, but in doing so, she has drawn attention to the fact that May Alcott might well be "Everywoman," no matter in which era she lives, where she chooses to live, or what craft she strives to perfect.
Jeannine Atkins is an adjunct professor at Simmons College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of several books for young readers featuring women in history. Among her published works are Madam C. J. Walker and Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Visit her website.
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