In the Bookcase


Book Review: A Long Fatal Love Chase

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott (5 star review)

A Long Fatal Love Chase

written by Louisa May Alcott

356 pages // published in 1995 // Gothic romance


"I'd gladly sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom," cries Rosamond Vivian to her callous grandfather. A brooding stranger seduces her from the remote island onto his yacht. Trapped in a web of intrigue, cruelty, and deceit, she flees to Italy, France, Germany, from Paris garret to mental asylum, from convent to chateau - stalked by obsessed Phillip Tempest.

Two years before Little Women, serialized in a magazine under the alias A.M. Barnard in 1866, this was buried among the author's papers over a century.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Here is a tale of love and love lost. Of good verses evil. Of an angel and a devil.

Be forewarned, this is quite a departure for our beloved Louisa May Alcott, if you're wanting another great American novel such as Little Women – with it's quaintness, happiness, and steadfastness in family and sisterly love. 'Love Chase' is much darker and more dramatic. In fact, it was so sensational that even though Louisa's publisher asked her for a novel with “absorbingly interesting” cliffhangers, he couldn't accept this product of her imagination and print such a scandalous story... In fact, it remained unpublished for more than a hundred years after her death, until chance landed it into the hands of just the right editor who would dust the cobwebs off the story and bring it forth to the public in 1995.

Rosamond Vivian, a sheltered 18-year-old who lives with her uncaring grandfather in East England, has finally found a bit of adventure... in the shape of a visitor to their little island, a visitor named Mr. Tempest. Away naive Rosamond is swept, in a flurry of frivolous fun and deceit.

“He was simply a man without a conscience. Do you know, Rose, I sometimes think I have none.”

Rosamond takes it upon herself to turn her lover upon the right path in life. Tempest freely warns her in the first days of their companionship that he is not a good man; he certainly couldn't be confused with a saint. I did love her response, “No, everything is possible with God. I do not give you up. I pity you, and love can work miracles, so I shall still hope and work.” Girl, you get an A for effort, because that's a tall order.

“Rose, remember one thing. I am master here, my will is law, and disobedience I punish without mercy.”

This life of adventure with an all-too-charming man begins to take its toll on Rosamond. She is unable to bear the days half so cheerily as he strives to defeat her in emotional games. He toys with her mind, and with her very being, her soul... the chase is on. It's a chase that was destined from its misguided start to end in tragedy of some kind.

“You love him still, and struggle against your love, feeling that it will undo you. He knows this and he will tempt you by every lure he can devise, every deceit he can employ.”

Note to the discerning reader: There's so many topics covered in this book, such as suicide, murder, divorce, bigamy, deep obsession, and one too many other dark secrets. To be honest though, I didn't feel that any of this was too “sensational”, especially for modern readers.

To me, this novel certainly feel like an epic piece of refined literature such as 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (without Hugo's additional inner essays, thank goodness), combined with the intensity and intrigue of a Gothic classic such as 'Rebecca', and a unique cast of characters such as would be found in any Dickens novel. Don't overlook 'Love Chase' simply because it is one of Alcott's lesser known publications, as it ranks well with these other classics in terms of pathos, and a unique perspective on human nature.

This is a story where our American authoress takes on the task of painting a colorful European landscape, creating a heroine who lives in England, not the States. In fact, Louisa, I'm sure, used much inspiration from her own European trips to vividly tell us all about some of the other countries whose shores are touched in this roller-coaster tale, as the love chase bounds from location to location.

Overall? Certainly it felt thrilling and suspenseful while each chapter passed. What fun it truly was to discover a different facet of Louisa's writing skill.

Reading age level: This is considered to be one of the few “adult” novels that Alcott wrote.

My favorite quote – just a random snippet that I love, when singled out from the book...

“What now, my little bookworm?” he asked, as he threw himself down on the couch near the table where she sat reading and lit his cigar always laid ready for him.

My 2nd book is complete for the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge.

Add to Goodreads

Buy the book!

paperback // hardcover

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

If you'd like to learn more about the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge, or to sign-up, just visit this link to start at the beginning.


Listen in to podcasts on Masterpiece's Little Women

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

PBS Masterpiece released some interviews recently, talking with the stars of the new Little Women adaptation. There's some cool behind-the-scenes stuff to learn about, with Maya Hawke, Angela Lansbury, Emily Watson, and others!

If you're not familiar with podcasts yet, don't let that stop you. Just visit one of the links below, press the play button, and listen in.

My recommendation? Listen when you're doing some work around the house, crafting, cooking, or when you're just going to be on your laptop for a few minutes -- I always like to keep busy while I listen to a podcast or audiobook.

Heidi Thomas Makes Alcott’s Words Shine In New ‘Little Women’ Adaptation

Angela Lansbury Is A Woman Of Her Time In ‘Little Women’

Maya Hawke And Jonah Hauer-King Can’t Stop Making Each Other Laugh

Cinematic Sisterhood Was Simple For Annes Elwy and Willa Fitzgerald

Emily Watson Means To Be More Like Marmee

What podcasts do you like to listen to?

Do you know of any literature-themed podcasts?

If you'd like to learn more about the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge, or to sign-up, just visit this link to start at the beginning.


Book Review: Shawl Straps

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Shawl-Straps by Louisa May Alcott (4 star review)

Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag #2

written by Louisa May Alcott

128 pages // published in 1872 // vintage travel fiction


Unlike the other volumes in this series, which are books of childrens' stories, Shawl-Straps is a novel. It is the story of Amanda, Matilda, and Lavinia, three sisters who are travelling in Europe. The book is based on Louisa May Alcott's own travels with her sister. She states in the preface:
"There is a sort of fate about writing books of travel which it is impossible to escape. It is vain to declare that no inducement will bribe one to do it, that there is nothing new to tell, and that nobody wants to read the worn-out story: sooner or later the deed is done, and not till the book is safely shelved does peace descend upon the victim of this mysterious doom. The only way in which this affliction may be lightened to a long-suffering public is to make the work as cheerful and as short as possible. With this hope the undersigned bore has abstained from giving the dimensions of any church, the population of any city, or description of famous places, as far as in her lay; but confined herself to the personal haps and mishaps, adventures and experiences, of her wanderers." - Louisa M. Alcott, November 1872.

My Review

4 Star Rating

A delightful trek across Europe...

So, I assumed this would be a continuation of Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag #1... (being a collection of short stories) but my assumption was wrong. Shawl-Straps is, in fact, a whole little novel in itself. It follows the travels of a band of three American unmarried girls as they visit various places in Europe.

It might be fun to actually follow in the footsteps of these girls and perhaps travel along a similar route across Europe and visit many of the same landmarks as they did in France, Switzerland, Italy, and England. To do so would be seeing Europe a bit through Louisa's very own eyes, I feel like – of course with the difference of almost a hundred years!

The girls do get to visit some places that are in Charles Dickens' novels, and that was an interesting point to note, as I know that Louisa was a fond admirer of Dickens' writings.

At one point, the merry travelers have to decide to leave the heavier luggage behind and press on with only their shawl straps. I never could quite decide exactly what actual shawl straps look like, or how you carry it, even though it sounds like a delightful vintage device...

Author and blogger Susan Bailey was able to provide me with an illustration from a copy of Shawl-Straps published in the 1920s. In this picture, we see one of the young ladies holding a strap that (I assume) connects to a shawl for holding items inside – to carry as a small bundle with a handle? You can make your own assumptions, as based on the illustration:

Shawl Straps illustration

Also, here are 2 more illustrations of shawl straps, available online. This next one is a diagram of an actual patent design. From this, we can see it has two belt-like straps that enclose the shawl (or other articles), and has a handle for easy carrying.
Shawl Straps illustration
// via The Portal to Texas History //

Lastly, another view showing the shawl strap in use, with a bundle rolled up inside.

Shawl Straps illustration
// via Bustles and Bows //

Overall, I give this book 4 stars because, although not amazing (sometimes a bit long-winded), and although not of seemingly much literary merit in Louisa's canon... it's still a charming tale that I could freely recommend to anyone (young or old) to read; whether they enjoy it is up to them.

My 1st book is complete for the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge.

Add to Goodreads

Buy the book!

paperback // ebook

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

If you'd like to learn more about the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge, or to sign-up, just visit this link to start at the beginning.


Catch 'The Other Alcott' on #SALE

Head's up, Alcott admirers!

One of the novels I'm reading for the L.M.A. reading challenge is on SALE this week, for a limited time! If you'd like to buy The Other Alcott as an ebook, it's (amazingly) only $1.99 right now!

I'm sending you over to Amazon to buy the book on Kindle, but this sale also extends to all platforms, whatever your e-reader of choice is. >>


Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.

We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Oh, and... P.S. I've got some SPECIAL posts hitting the blog soon, dear readers, for this special month of Alcott festivities. Stay tuned!

If you'd like to learn more about the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge, or to sign-up, just visit this link to start at the beginning.


Vote for Little Women to win #GreatReadPBS

Have you heard about The Great American Read?

PBS has created a list of the 100 books most-loved by Americans... and guess what?
Little Women is 1 of 100 books on the list!

You can vote every day for your favorite titles on the list, and 1 book will win the title of Great American Read later this Fall. Isn't this just too cool?

If you'd like to vote for Little Women, just visit the Great American Read online to cast your vote for any and all of your favorites... as often as you like. Who knows? Maybe Little Women could win!

* Once you're on the voting page, and you just want to vote for a specific title, try using their search box above the booklist, for quick access to a title.

How many books on the Great American Read list have you already read?

I took the >>> QUIZ <<< and found out I've read 15 of the 100. There's so many titles on there I feel like I should read!

Are you interested in joining the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge this June? I'd be thrilled to have you reading with us!


What I'm reading for the L.M. Alcott challenge...

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Dearest readers, I thank you for joining me for the 2018 Louisa May Alcott reading challenge (Check out the details + giveaway if you haven't yet!)

For today's post, I'm sharing about the L.M.A. books I'll be tackling this month for the challenge. I've got a TON on my list -- as I was blessed to be able to borrow several of these from another admirer of Miss Aloctt -- but honestly, I don't see how I will make it through this list in ONE MONTH. But I'll do my best.

A Long Fatal Love Chase (1995, posthumously)
written by Louisa May Alcott

Reading 'A Long Fatal Love Chase' this June for the LMA reading challenge!

Shawl-Straps (1872)
written by Louisa May Alcott

Reading 'Shawl-Straps' this June for the LMA reading challenge!

Louisa May: The World And Works Of Louisa May Alcott (1991)
written by Norma Johnston

Reading 'Louisa May: The World And Works Of Louisa May Alcott' this June for the LMA reading challenge!

Becoming Little Women: Louisa May at Fruitlands (2001)
written by Jeannine Atkins

Reading 'Becoming Little Women: Louisa May at Fruitlands Farm: Louisa May at Fruitlands' this June for the LMA reading challenge!

The Other Alcott (2017)
written by Elise Hooper

Reading 'The Other Alcott' this June for the LMA reading challenge!

The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories (2004)
written by Louisa May Alcott

Reading 'The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories' this June for the LMA reading challenge!

I'm thrilled to be reading these books this summer. And I can't wait to see which books you're going to read for the challenge as well!

So, my question to you, dear reader, is this...

What book(s) are you reading for the LMA challenge this June?

* Remember, it can be any book or story penned by the hand of Miss Alcott, or written about her and the Alcott family.

Not sure what to read for the challenge? Check out my [List of published titles by Louisa May Alcott] for some literary inspiration this June.