Little Woman in Blue

May Alcott spends her days sewing blue shirts for Union soldiers, but she dreams of painting a masterpiece—which many say is impossible for a woman—and of finding love, too. When she reads her sister’s wildly popular novel, Little Women, she is stung by Louisa’s portrayal of her as “Amy,” the youngest of four sisters who trades her desire to succeed as an artist for the joys of hearth and home. Determined to prove her talent, May makes plans to move far from Massachusetts and make a life for herself with room for both watercolors and a wedding dress. Can she succeed? And if she does, what price will she have to pay?

Based on May Alcott’s letters and diaries, as well as memoirs written by her neighbors, Little Woman in Blue puts May at the center of the story she might have told about sisterhood and rivalry in an extraordinary family.

Print ISBN-13: 978-16315298701 $16.95
E-ISBN: 978-1631529887 $9.95

Available at:
at Amazon.com | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

The Inspiration for Little Woman in Blue

I’ve long been fascinated by Louisa May Alcott, who showed me that an ordinary-enough girl could grow up to be a writer. Even before I’d read Little Women, I played with my sister and friends at being Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy, one of the sisters in the novel published in 1868, which has never gone out of print. I liked the idea of dipping a pen into ink while eating apples in a garret, but my older sister claimed the role of Jo, the writer. I didn’t entirely mind being Amy. Even before I’d studied point of view, I had a sense that it might only be an older sister’s opinion that the youngest was frivolous. Besides, what was so wrong with a fondness for good food, pretty clothes, handsome men, and happiness?

NYPL Berg collection
I continued to wonder about different definitions of selfishness after I grew up and learned about the four real sisters behind the ones in Little Women. Amy March was portrayed as a dilettante who gave up artistic aspirations when she married a rich young man. In real life, May Alcott attended art school and professional classes. A book of her drawings of noted places in Concord was published shortly after her sister’s novel. She’d go on to study in a Paris atelier and have paintings displayed in that city’s Salon, which attracted tens of thousands of art-lovers each spring. May and Louisa had plenty of years to bond as the two single women in their family, yet Louisa never seemed to take May’s aspirations seriously.

Louisa’s portrait of Amy March opened a door to the more complicated May Alcott. I wrote Little Women in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott to show how May wanted and believed she could have both a career as an artist and a satisfying family life. I explored why Louisa, imaginative and forward thinking as she was, struggled to see that women might claim what some men took for granted. In this year of May’s 175th birthday, I’m happy to show what she accomplished and at what cost.

Follow the links below for more info and resources

Saving Sisters: Little Women, The Hunger Game, and Frozen in The Horn Book

Read the First Chapter.

Read What People are Saying about the book.

Read a Conversation with Jeannine talking about writing Little Woman in Blue.

Read Essays and Interviews

Download the Reading Group Guide.

Learn more about the Alcotts through this Reading List and Places to Visit.

Learn more about May Alcott and other special women in my books on Pinterest .


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