Thursday, April 16, 2015

ARC Review: The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl

Title: The Revelation of Louisa May
Author: Michaela McColl
Published: April 14, 2015 by Chronicle Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Louisa May Alcott can't believe it—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and Louisa is to be in charge of the household. How will she find the time to write her stories, much less have any adventures of her own? 

But before long, Louisa finds herself juggling her temperamental father, a mysterious murder, a fugitive seeking refuge along the Underground Railroad, and blossoming love. Intertwining fact, fiction, and quotes from Little Women, Michaela MacColl has crafted another spunky heroine whose story will keep readers turning pages until the very end.

If you are a constant reader at My Thoughts Lit you probably know that I'm a big fan of Little Women. It's my favorite classic. I've read it more times than I can count and I think that this is my fifth review of a book that is somehow connected with Little Women. So when I saw an e-ARC of The Revelation of Louisa May available on Edelweiss of course I snagged it. I was not disappointed by this fun and engaging read based on a beloved classic.

Anything that makes me think of Little Women is something that I will always enjoy and this is definitely a book for fans of Little Women. I wouldn't call it a retelling or even a reimagining. It's more a re-inspiration. It's no secret that Little Women is semi-autobiographical and with this being a book Louisa May Alcott what the author does is think about what moments from Louisa's life could have inspired her to write her novels. While everything is purely fictional, throughout the book you can see moments and characters that may led to the creation of Little Women, the March family, and Louisa's "stories." Fans of the classic will pick out subtle moments that will remind them of  Amy, Laurie, Mr. Behr, and of course our beloved Jo. The moments were so natural and well-researched that I actually found myself thinking that they really happened. And that is is the sign of good historical fiction.

Which brings me to my favorite thing about the book, the historical context. Even better than the elements from Little Women, Michaela McColl wrote an engaging story that was rooted in history and reality. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and my favorite kind are novels that combines real people and elaborates with made up characters and situations. And yes, the characters (more on them later) aren't totally made up but that's what makes it all the more interesting. But what the book really elaborates on however is their connection with the Underground Railroad and the abolition movement. That's such a complex subject and I really enjoyed the authors exploration of the topic and it's connection to the Alcott family. I love that Little Women stands the test of time but I always missed the events of the time in that novel, and I loved that it was explored in The Revelation of Louisa May.

The author also did a fantastic job creating characters that were complex and memorable. In fact, this is a book about the Alcott family and their connection with the transcendentalists of Concord. It is clear to me that Michaela MacColl did her research. Louisa's father Bronson Alcott is of course featured along with Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Each philosopher was so well-rounded with strengths and weaknesses that made them compelling to read about and like the situations, made me wonder how much was true. And just as well-rounded was Louisa herself. She is just as plucky and rash as our beloved Jo. I did feel a little bit like we were told about her temper more than witnessing it firsthand but I did still love the way she walked the fine line between societies expectations of her and what she wanted for herself.

And while I really loved the historical aspect of the book, what kept me from giving it a really strong rating was the mystery. That sounds like a weird thing to say because I usually enjoy the addition of a mystery to any novel but this just seemed to over-complicate things. Which is even weirder to say because this was a quick and easy read. It just didn't really fit with the story to me. About half way through the book a sudden murder mystery just seemed out of left field and it was an odd direction to take the plot in. Not to mention that it was the kind of mystery that I solved very quickly and it took forever for the characters to get on the same page. I think I would have enjoyed it a little more if it just stuck with the historical fiction aspect and it didn't try to be a historical mystery.

I give The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl an 8 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are a fan of Little Women and/or you are looking for an interesting historical fiction novel then grab this one on your next library haul. It was an interesting read that wasn't perfect but it was a fun and engaging Young Adult read.

Have you read The Revelation of Louisa May? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!  


  1. I'm not familiar with this one, and I'm not much of historical fiction fan but--this sounds kind of interesting. I might check it out. Thanks for the review! :)

    1. It was alright. I think I enjoyed it so much because of my attachment to Little Women. It was a little simpler than I was hoping. It's YA but it's more on the MG side of the spectrum.