1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!
But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?
I remember when I first watched the Little Women movie. I was probably eight at the time, and I shipped Jo and Laurie so hard. Then over the years, as I watched three different film adaptations and read the book along with Little Men and Jo’s Boys, I ended up quite pleased with how all of the pairs worked out. This book, though, took me right back to when I first met the Marches and their friends.
This book works in an alternate universe, where the story that we all know and love is the book that Jo publishes instead of what actually happens. It took a bit for me to get my mind around, since there were several noticeable differences between the two, but the authors did a wonderful job making it work. They also did a marvelous job at keeping the characters in character, and maintaining the writing style from the original. I have read several spin-off books based on classics, and it is so grating to see my beloved characters become all catawampus. This, however, could have been just as easily written by Louisa herself.
Another aspect that I really enjoyed were the added historical references. They include so many little details about Charles Dickens, the Civil War, and other historically-relevant topics. Watching Jo fangirl over Dickens (for example) definitely added to the reading experience, and made the characters all the more relatable.
I love Louisa May Alcott so much, and getting to return to Orchard House in the context of this new story felt a little bit like coming home. I loved everyone just as much while reading this as I did when I first met them, and I couldn’t really ask for anything more.