Stories that Stick

I know I’ve read a great story when, as I come to The End and close the cover, I can’t let go. The characters take root in my mind, and memories of them, like those of an old friend, surface some time later.

I experienced a moment like that, recollecting characters from a story I’d finished months ago, as I read through a new book with my daughter recently.

Yona Zeldis McDonough wrote a children’s book, Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott, a brief biography, which highlights important events that molded Alcott into a woman devoted to her writing, as well as to her family. All of the facts are there, but as I read through the book, I kept searching for more.

What about that magical time in 1855, I wondered, when the Alcotts spent the summer in Walpole, New Hampshire? I flipped through the pages hoping to find mention of a man named Joseph Singer or to read about a silver comb lost, then found and treasured.

But, those details aren’t mentioned in this biography by McDonough. They do, however, come together in a different story, in Kelly O’Connor McNees’ beautiful historical fiction, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. In The Lost Summer, McNees weaves an imagined but believable tale about a love between Alcott and a man named Singer, an attraction that was difficult to turn away from, difficult for the main characters and for the readers. McNees’s novel is well written and memorable, and that’s the story that stuck out in my mind as I read to my daughter.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott was released in April 2010, and the paperback edition hits the shelves this May.

The new cover of the paperback (with its vivid colors and that dress!) makes me want to buy the book all over again. A quote from the Washington post reminds me why this book is one I’ll read it again:

The Lost Summer is the kind of romantic tale to which Alcott herself was partial, one in which love is important but not a solution to life’s difficulties.

I had the honor of interviewing Kelly back in August about her novel and about writing. You can read the interview here. You can also visit Kelly O’Connor McNees’ website for details on upcoming events related to her paperback release and check out her blog for news and for interviews with  other great authors.

Better yet, you can pre-order her paperback on Amazon or on

What about you? What stories stick in your mind, with characters who stay with you long after the cover is closed?


10 responses to “Stories that Stick

  1. Oh, this book looks wonderful! I’ve had it on my “to be read” list, so maybe I’ll have to bump it up a few places now that you’ve given me this nice reminder.

    For me, Anne of Green Gables is like an old friend. However, there are many, many stories that continue to haunt me (in the best kind of way) indefinitely.

  2. Great post, Christi. There are so many characters and stories that have stayed in my mind and heart. Jo from Little Women, certainly, to continue with our beloved Louisa Alcott. And also the characters in so many of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s stories: Sara Crewe from A Little Princess, and Mary Lennox, Colin and Dickon from The Secret Garden. There are many more, too, from my adult reading life. I could go on and on! The Lost Summer of Louisa Alcott is going on my list right now. Oh my, that dress!

    • Beth,

      I haven’t read A Little Princess (on my TBR list now). And, yes, that dress. Dreamy 🙂 Reminds me of the one Ms. Penny Jar mentioned on her blog a while back — her red wedding dress. Did you see that one?

  3. You have so convinced me to read that book — Little Women still echoes from my childhood reading, as does Heidi. In my adult life, Marilynne Robinson’s characters in Gilead echo in my mind. There are also a number of stories by Edgar Allen Poe, Chekhov and Eudora Welty that reverberate for me.

    • Pam,

      Enjoy the book! And, I love that you mention characters from short stories. From one Flash Fiction writer to another, I was just thinking about a few flash pieces I read recently by Amelia Gray. Talk about characters and stories that stick!….

  4. Another book to add to my reading list! The girls of Little Women were definitely my childhood friends (Heidi, too–we have a lot in common, Pam).

    I love the way you began this post, Christi. 🙂

  5. I can’t wait to read this book. I think because I always related so much to Jo in Little Women, that fascination has carried over to Louisa May Alcott. Have you seen the documentary, “The Woman Behind Little Women”? I highly recommend it for anyone who’s a fan! Her ambition and independent spirit is inspiring, even hundreds of years later.

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