The Art of Amy March in The Other Alcott

By Trix Wilkins

What if Amy had continued her ardent pursuit of art in Little Women? This novel by Elise Hooper is about the real Amy – May Alcott. The one who did not aim to become “an ornament to society” but relentlessly worked to make a career of her art and succeeded.

The other alcott PIC

All for art and art for all

My favorite thing about The Other Alcott is all the art – the time May spent in Europe taking various art classes, learning techniques, meeting fellow artists, pushing herself to know and try more. The detail was captivating – I felt plunged into the world of art history and the tremendous discipline and tenacity involved in creating art. I have always been disappointed Amy didn’t pursue her art the way her real-life counterpart did and it was a great joy to read of how that process might have happened.

Missing the March sisters

I admit I read this novel expecting more references to Little Women – more letters between herself and her sisters and mother, flashbacks to childhood memories, bantering between all the sisters especially between May and Louisa…even though I knew going into it that the real May Alcott was not actually much like Amy. The narrative flows smoothly as is so I can see why such letters and moments weren’t included; still, I can’t help longing for them! (Maybe I just like long books with such interjections…)

How to court an Alcott

Ahhh, was there a real life Laurie? For the first few chapters I felt like May was more like Jo March in character and temperament than Amy. The book also begins with May having a wealthy and handsome suitor unfazed by her lack of fortune and determined to make her his wife. I like the fact that art was the main focus of the novel; yet I felt the romance was quite rushed. I would have liked to have seen more of the development of the courtship, the character and history of the man she loved.

Favorite quote from the novel

Amy and a friend from art class have this conversation:

“I’ve nothing to lose by trying.”

“I admire your fearlessness.”

“Some might call it foolishness.”

“Well, whatever it is, I like it about you.”

I love that May Alcott kept trying. The courage involved in persisting after disappointment, loss, failure, is no small thing – and Elise Hooper brought this out splendidly in her portrayal of the real Amy March.

Author and book sale PIC


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