The Little women letters

Gabrielle Donnelly

Book - 2011

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FICTION/Donnelly, Gabrielle
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New York : Simon & Schuster 2011.
1st Touchstone hardcover ed
Item Description
"Originally published in Great Britain in 2010 by Penguin Books Ltd."--T.p. verso.
Physical Description
358 p. ; 24 cm
Main Author
Gabrielle Donnelly (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Sensible office administrator Emma Atwater is planning her wedding, gorgeous 22-year-old Sophie Atwater is launching an acting career, and Lulu Atwater is drifting aimlessly through a series of dead-end jobs, trying to decide how her sisters managed to become grown-ups without telling her how it's done. When Lulu's copious amounts of free time lead her to her parents' attic to hunt for an old book of recipes, she discovers a dusty set of letters from Josephine March, Lulu's great-great-grandmother. Expanding on episodes familiar to anyone who has loved Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Donnelly's The Little Women Letters imagines how modern versions of the March sisters might have lived. Donnelly's homage is respectful without being obsequious, and frequent allusions to Alcott's text give The Little Women Letters a certain authenticity. Donnelly writes with obvious passion for the classic tale and successfully applies a fresh sensibility to the three modern sisters. Nostalgic without being deferential, jocular without being flippant, The Little Women Letters is beautifully crafted. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Donnelly's (The Girl in the Photograph) latest chronicles the lives of the descendants of Louisa May Alcott's March family. Specifically, Donnelly explores what the great-great-granddaughters of the dynamic Jo would be like. Sisters Emma, Lulu, and Sophie are all as different as can be, but they struggle equally to determine what types of lives they want. Lulu in particular feels she doesn't have the same luck in love as her older sister, Emma, nor the same direction for a career as her younger one. When Lulu stumbles upon the letters of Jo March, a new world that is different in time but similar in its themes is revealed to her as well as a kinship to the relative she never met. VERDICT Donnelly starts with a great premise, but readers have to keep track of lots of characters. The dialog and plot are sometimes slowed by contrived transitions. Still, fans of Little Women may enjoy this reinterpretation.—Anne M. Miskewitch, Chicago P.L. [Page 72]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Modern women have much to learn from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, or so Donnelly seeks to prove in a debut novel that contrasts the contemporary Atwater sisters with distant ancestors Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. The present-day Atwater clan consists of sensible oldest sister Emma, smart-mouthed middle sister Lulu, and aspiring actress Sophie, the perky youngest. As the novel opens, Emma prepares for her wedding; Lulu feels adrift; and Sophie moves in with Lulu and her roommate, Charlie, a young woman the Atwaters regard as one of their own. Lulu finds her great-great-grandma Jo's correspondences in the attic, revealing numerous similarities between the Marches and the Atwaters. Like the Marches, the Atwater girls are independent yet eager for love, vivacious yet genteel, and letters written 150 years ago begin to inform Lulu's life today. Donnelly's novel is much the same, though it occasionally loses focus. Actually, Donnelly is at her best when she abandons Alcottian gentility to describe Sophie's appearance on a TV melodrama. Donnelly's light, spirited tale about modern women with old-fashioned values benefits from its colorful Islington, London, locale. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Imagines the lives of the descendants of Jo March, tracing the story of middle sister Lulu, who discovers a collection of letters written by her great-great-grandmother 150 years earlier and experiences solace and guidance as she learns that her ancestors' bonds of sisterhood were not always harmonious.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Imagines the lives of the descendants of Jo March, tracing the story of middle sister Lulu, who discovers a collection of letters written by her great-great-grandmother and learns that her ancestors' bonds of sisterhood were not always harmonious.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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? 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.