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
Pronounced as Nee-na.
Artist, illustrator, writer, watercolorist and a folklorist. Gryffinclaw. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea and period dramas.
Love fandoms AOGG and Little Women (prefers books over the films). Louisa May Alcott researcher.
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