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Book Review: Louisa and the Missing Heiress

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

Louisa and the Missing Heiress  by Anna Maclean (3 star review)

Louisa and the Missing Heiress
Louisa May Alcott Mystery #1

by Anna Maclean

304 pages // published in 2004 // historical mystery


Long before she will achieve fame as the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott is writing stories of a more dark and mysterious nature. But nothing prepares her for the role of amateur detective she assumes when the body of her dear friend, wealthy newlywed Dorothy Wortham, is found floating in Boston's harbor.

It's well known that Dorothy's family didn't approve of her husband, a confirmed fortune hunter, but Louisa suspects that some deeper secret lies behind her friend's tragic murder...

My Review

3 Star Rating

This novel is so incredibly detailed, well thought out, well researched. It beats out a lot of other average historical fiction in that way. The research must have been extensive, and it only deepens and enriches the story for the better.

My first thought in reading this book was a bit of alarm, as I realized that Louisa's best friend and confidant is named Sylvia -- not one of her sisters, nor any person I know of from Louisa's history (though I could be wrong on that count?). I just longed for a bit more of familiarity with this stranger. However, once I realized/pretended that Sylvia perhaps represents the female version of Laurie Lawrence, I accepted her friendship better. (Sidenote: That may or may not have been the author's intention, but it sounded good enough to me.)

What I love is how the story weaves in elements of the Alcotts' lifestyle -- which in many ways was different than their neighbors -- and yet it feels natural, not like they are oddballs for their vegetarian choices and free thinking. The lifestyle seems actually manageable, not so strict as in other books, but perhaps by this point in their lives, Mr. Alcott has wisened, changed the strictest of his ways and mellowed. Whatever the case, the home as illustrated in this book is one that I'd like to live in.

I truly feel like Louisa's personality shone forth accurately too. It blends her writing work life with her family and social life seamlessly. I couldn't ask for a better fictional characterization than what is presented in this book.

Language level: 4 out of 5. Infrequent, but some highly distasteful words.

Content includes: Unwed mothers, childbirth, and adult conversations about such. Nude paintings are mentioned, as one of the characters is an artist of such work. A public autopsy is performed and intricately described, yet tactful enough. Also, the plot weaves in various ideas of men who are having an affair, or other illicit behavior. (It's not written in a lewd way, but it's in the whole story.)

Minimum age to read: 18 and up.

Overall? It's an intriguing mystery, centered upon one of my favorite authoresses. How could I not like it? And yet... some of the aforementioned content is fairly heavy, draining my overall excitement for this title.

"The professions of detective and author, I now know, have much in common. Both involve an attempt to understand the deepest nature of human beings, as well as the act of telling -- or uncovering -- their deepest, truest stories."

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Book #3 completed

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1 comment:

  1. I had not heard of this novel. It's an interesting premise!