I am happy and delighted to share my thoughts on Lorraine Tosiello´s brand new book "Only Gossip Prospers".
Lorraine Tosiello read Alcott’s Little Women in the first grade—and re-read it again and again throughout most of her childhood. The book equipped her to set off on a journey of motherhood, traveling, rabble-rousing and work as a physician devoted to medical education and primary care medicine. Rereading Little Women in later adulthood rekindled her Alcott enthusiasm, and years of happy study resulted in her first novel, Only Gossip Prospers. She lives with her husband in midtown Manhattan and at the New Jersey shore.
Only gossip prospers takes place in 1875 and centers around a very little known time period in Louisa May Alcott´s life. A winter that she spent in New York. Book is filled with intriguing references to the Alcott family, historical fiction that intertwines Louisa´s circle of friends and family members, transcendentalist philosophy, cultural and feminist ideas of the time to a cavalcade of fictional and historical characters. It is also a beautiful time jump to the 19th century New York in the peak of industrial revolution.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. Not only it has tons of surprises and plot-twists like the best Alcott novels but this book is quite possibly the most full-rounded and insightful description of Louisa May Alcott as a person that I have ever come across. She was a very complicated woman. Alcott who we meet is in the top of her fame, rich and wealthy but poor in health, deeply dedicated to the humanitarian work that is close to her heart, constantly creating plot-lines for the new stories and at the same someone who feels a constant need to protect her reputation. Louisa is funny and witty. Prone to mood changes. She can be the light of the party and someone who longs her family and misses home dearly. She is international, bold, brave, moody, insecure and thrives in a company that challenges her intellectually.
Tosiello´s background in the medical field gives the reader wider understanding of Louisa´s struggles with her health (most widely accepted cause for her health problems is mercury poisoning. During her American Civil War service, Alcott contracted typhoid fever and was treated with a compound containing mercury). Book is a great glimpse to different holistic healthcare treatments of the time not to mention the mental healthcare practices (or should I say the lack of them).
This book is so filled with twists and turns and the plot only thickens towards the end I did find it difficult to put it down while reading the last chapters. I especially appreciated the wonderful, rich way author describes Louisa´s inner world with all it´s contradictions. There are multiple references to Louisa´s literal works such as Little Women, Little Men, Eight Cousins and Moods. I did enjoy the wonderful twist in the Fritz/Laurie debate and greatly appreciated how the author points out Louisa´s fascination and knowledge of the German culture (a topic way too often dismissed by the scholars) but it was truly the gender swap themes that took me by surprise.
Five stars and I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested to find more compelling and nuanced takes on this fascinating author.
Check out all my articles about Little Women:
Evolution of Laurie
Quest of Friedrich Bhaer (and why my inner Jo loves him)
Jo, Friedrich and the weekly volcano press aka what it takes to become a great writer
Jo, the adamant
Small umbrella in the rain 2019
Little Women 1970 Amy and Laurie Romance
We Germans Believe in Sentiment
Friedrich Bhaer Aesthetics
Equal Marriage Lost in Translation
Little Women 2019 Trailer (Long Rant)
Little Women 1933
Best Jo and Fritz fanfics you´ve ever read
He was attractive as a genial fire
Little Men and Tender Parenthood
Little Women symbolism of the umbrella
Thoughts on #TeamLaurie and #TeamBhaer
Susan from Louisa May Alcott is my passion- blog asked me to review the Little Women 2019 movie companion. I thought I would share my thoughts here as well.
The premiere of the new Little Women feature film is approaching and recently a movie companion written by Gina McIntyre was released with beautiful photographs taken from the set by Wilson Webb. The book includes interviews from the cast, director, set designers, choreographers, and clothing department. Readers will learn about the history that led to Louisa May Alcott´s classic, and the vision that brought these cherished characters to life.
Louisa May Alcott and the legacy of Little Women
When you are deeply invested in a story you have loved since childhood, prospects of any new adaptation can be both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. For one fan, Katherine Hepburn is the only real Jo March when another one wows on Winona Ryder´s performance. At some point, my adoration towards Little Women shifted away from the books to approach it as a cultural phenomenon and this is why I never get tired of seeing new adaptations. It was interesting to read the memories and thoughts of Little Women from Greta Gerwig and the three film producers — Amy Pascal, Denise Di Novi and Robin Swicord (Di Novi also produced the 1994 film and Robin Swicord was one of the scriptwriters).
Some of the main criticism that the new adaptation has received (just based on the trailer) is the way it is trying to tick off all the boxes of the fourth wave of feminism. I never saw Little Women as anything else other than a feminist novel but all the same, I understand where this criticism comes from. It seems to be a trend that every single female character in any type of film these days needs to have empowering traits. Little Women, however, was written by an author who was part of the first wave of feminism and it is those past struggles and successes that have taken us to where we are today. The message of Little Women about radical acceptance is timeless. Whether Gerwig´s film is going to deliver remains to be seen.
Eliza Scanlen as Beth
The women (and men) of Little Women
The part that I enjoyed most in this book was the actor interviews. Saoirse Ronan’s take on Jo having a “Peter Pan complex” is a worthwhile approach that deserves attention.
"Strength can be found in vulnerability too and opening yourself up to the feelings that you might not want to feel. Hopefully, this film will be a way for people to appreciate introverts as people who have something to say and who navigate the world in their way that´s no less important” — Eliza Scanlen
Eliza Scanlen´s interpretation of Beth was something I found deeply moving (Scanlen, required to be able to play the piano, returned to the instrument she had played as a child). I especially look forward to seeing her interactions with Mr. Laurence.
Louis Garrel’s insights on Friedrich has made me curious about the portrayal of Mr. Bhaer in this adaptation. Gender fluidity themes in the relationship between Jo and Laurie is a refreshing approach. Laura Dern´s Marmee is following the footsteps of Susan Sarandon – that of making the character more like the real-life counterpart, Abigail Alcott.
“The book was important to me because it didn´t just highlight these four very angelic girls. It also talked about their hunger, how passionate they are to want to make something of themselves. That´s always attractive to read, whether it´s about women or men” — Florence Pugh
Pugh´s performance as Amy is what I most look forward to seeing in this film. Jo´s and Amy´s relationship in the book is raw but it´s also realistic. They argue because they had similar tempers but they also fiercely love each other. In part one, Laurie in many ways works as Jo´s mirror; in part two, Amy serves a similar purpose. It will be exciting to finally see that on screen. I believe Amy is going to be the secret weapon of this movie.
Living like the Marches
The book includes artistic and hauntingly beautiful wet plate photographs of the characters. There are recipes from the film and I am tempted to try Amy´s pickled limes.
The book includes the history of the Alcott family and Orchard House.
I found the costume design very interesting especially when it came to the girls as individuals, the shift in Laurie when he matures, and the gender fluidity of Jo and Laurie in their youth. It looks like they are borrowing each other’s clothes in the film.
One can only admire the skill of the prop department as individual characters are introduced with items that are important and specially made for them.
I must admit I have very mixed feelings about this movie and the accompanying book because of some of Gerwig´s statements. They have made me feel that she doesn´t understand the heart-core of the story. Nevertheless, I am sure there are elements in this film that I find enjoyable as they are in all the previous Little Women adaptations.
An older video of mine where I show some of my favorite fairy books and talk about myths )O( Enjoy
Pronounced as Nee-na.
Artist, illustrator, writer, watercolorist and a folklorist. Gryffinclaw. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea and period dramas.
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