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Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Little Women Letters...Review

About the book:
Vibrant, fresh, and intelligent, The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March. As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.


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? 

Vibrant, fresh, and intelligent, The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March. As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.


Some things, of course, remain unchanged: the stories and jokes that form a family’s history, the laughter over tea in the afternoon, the desire to do the right thing in spite of obstacles. And above all, of course, the fierce, undying, and often infuriating bond of sisterhood that links the Atwater women every bit as firmly as it did the March sisters all those years ago. Both a loving tribute to Little Women and a wonderful contemporary family story, The Little Women Letters is a heartwarming, funny, and wise novel for today.

I really didn't know what to expect from this book.  I love Little Women.  I have three sisters and I could always relate to the March girls.  I was so pleasantly surprised with The Little Women Letters.

Emma, Lulu and Sophie Atwater live in England with their American-born mother and British father.  Like many families, they love each other, but they each have their quirks and personality issues. Emma is reliable and good, much like Meg.  Lulu is impulsive and smart, like Jo and Sophie is the artistic, flighty one, similar to Amy.  Each is searching to determine her place in the world.

When Lulu discovers old letters written by her Great-Great-Grandmother Jo, she learns that the bonds of sisterhood transcend time.  Gabrielle Donnelly interweaves the lives of the three Atwater sisters beautifully with the March sisters through Lulu's reading of Jo's letters.

At first, I questioned the England setting, because the March family lived in Concord, Massachusetts, USA and one would think that would be the logical setting.  But, people move and our world is very much a global community.  So, it's absolutely normal to think that descendants of Jo March could live anywhere in the world.  I personally really enjoyed the English setting.  My husband is British, so many of the references were familiar to me.  And I loved the Doctor Who shout out!

This is a lovely story about the bonds and strength of sisterhood and the joys of family.  Sure, it's a little predictable with a happy ending for everyone, and Lulu is a little too sarcastic at times, but it's also delightful, charming and thought-provoking.

Thanks to Touchstone through Shelf Awareness for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Gabrielle Donnelly here. Her story behind the story is fascinating. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

9 comments:

  1. I adore Little Women so bet I'll love this book too.

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  2. Little Women is one of my favorite books. I have been meaning to read this one. Thanks for the wonderful review!

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  3. Little Women was the first book I read at 9. Nostalgic fit. I'm sure I'll love reading this one. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I hadn't heard of this, but it sounds amazing. Thanks for the recommendation :)

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  5. it sounds really wonderful. Last year I read a book call March by Geraldine Brooks - it was the story of the father from Little Women (perceived) it too was interesting.

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  6. I grew up right next to Concord and have always been a big fan of Little Women. I've been wondering about this since I first saw that it was coming out. It looks delightful. I'm glad that the English setting worked for you, also.

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  7. I'm glad that you liked this one. I'm a fan of Little Women as well. I have a copy of this book TBR and look forward to reading it soon.

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  8. Another one I need to acquire...

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  9. I loved this book, perfect summer read. I've never been a big fan of dialog as the narrative usually moves the story along better (for me) but Donnelly is brilliant with it - it sparkles with authenticity. I was sad when the book ended, hope there's a sequel. :-)

    I blogged about this book too and Donnelly did a guest post on my blog too about sisterhood - here's the link: http://louisamayalcottismypassion.wordpress.com/?s=gabrielle+donnelly+%22little+women+letters%22

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