Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl

First, thanks to Chronicle Books and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this.  Now, I have to admit that I've never read Little Women, or seen the movie, or read anything by Louisa May Alcott.  But, I'd never read Jane Eyre until I read the book The Eyre Affair.  While this was an okay story, not sure that it makes me need to read any of her books.  I was intrigued though, as I always am, by any book that takes a look at an author's life, especially fictional books because they can add in some fun details. 

This story is about Louisa May Alcott's life when she was about 15 and her mother had to go work in another city to bring the family money.  I guess I didn't realize that the author lived in a community with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  I really liked that bit of history that was woven into the story.  Louisa's family was also very much into the abolitionist movement,  to the point of being part of the Underground Railroad.  In the story, when Louisa's mother goes to the job she leaves Louisa in charge of the household, which includes not only doing the housework, cooking and cleaning for her father, but also watching her younger sister Beth, while her mother took the youngest, May, with her.  The household management included a "package", the runaway slave George, who showed up right as Louisa's mother, Marmee, was leaving. 

For Louisa's first time being in charge, things didn't go that smoothly, because at the same time she had a slave to protect, a slave catcher showed up in town looking for him.  And the slave catcher happened to know Henry, as well as another woman that wasn't trusted, Miss Whittaker.  One somewhat happy thing that seemed to occur was that Louisa's cousin Fred showed up.  While they used to be the best of friends, Fred had changed.  He'd grown up into a very handsome young man, and seemed to be interested in Louisa as more than a friend/cousin as well. 

When one of the players in the story turns up dead towards the end, the trials of the story soon turn into a murder mystery, one that Louisa feels she must solve, even if it means that someone she loves and respects, or feels sympathy for, is a murderer. 

I have to say the mystery was a good one, there was lots of story with actual factual bits sprinkled throughout as well.  While it gave me a bit of a history legend on some authors I didn't know that much about, as I said before, I will personally not be adding any of their books to my TBR at this time.  I think that the writing is probably done a lot like Alcott does in her books, at least it reminded me of how I think that the books were written, from what little I know of them. 

If you like the author Alcott's books, I'm guessing you'll enjoy this.  If you enjoy a good murder mystery, with some historical fiction thrown in, you'll also probably enjoy this.  I will definitely be adding it to my list of books to possibly order into the high school library where I work because of all the historical bits and the link to the authors' real lives.  I like that at the end there is even a few pages telling what everything was based on, and where truth and fiction intersected.