Living in the shadow of her older sister, author Louisa May Alcott, could not have been easy for May Alcott. Especially when everyone thought of her as Amy, the selfish, superficial little sister in Little Women. Author Elise Hooper starts off her debut novel at the moment when Louisa receives the reviews for her landmark novel, which include some negative words for May’s illustrations in the book.
Hooper weaves a story around the facts of May’s life, creating a warm historical novel that delves into the complicated relationships between sisters. She deftly characterizes the push and pull of affection, ego, jealousy, and duty that both binds them tightly and frustrates their love for each other.
May decides to follow her own path as an artist, traveling to further her education while Louisa furiously writes her fiction. As she develops her talent, May makes friendships along the way, including famous artists of the time. Her path illuminates the human desire for individual identity, the sometimes inexplicable need to pursue art and beauty, and the difficulty of forging a way in a career that society reserved for men. Her relationship with Louisa shows the toll that resentment can take and the freedom that forgiveness offers. (William Morrow)