Gabrielle Donnelly was born and brought up in London, where she worked as a journalist on women's magazines before moving to Los Angeles to specialize in show business journalism. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, and has been an ardent fan of Louisa May Alcott since she was a young girl.
Modern women have much to learn from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, or so Donnelly seeks to prove in a debut novel that contrasts the contemporary Atwater sisters with distant ancestors Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. The present-day Atwater clan consists of sensible oldest sister Emma, smart-mouthed middle sister Lulu, and aspiring actress Sophie, the perky youngest. As the novel opens, Emma prepares for her wedding; Lulu feels adrift; and Sophie moves in with Lulu and her roommate, Charlie, a young woman the Atwaters regard as one of their own. Lulu finds her great-great-grandma Jo's correspondences in the attic, revealing numerous similarities between the Marches and the Atwaters. Like the Marches, the Atwater girls are independent yet eager for love, vivacious yet genteel, and letters written 150 years ago begin to inform Lulu's life today. Donnelly's novel is much the same, though it occasionally loses focus. Actually, Donnelly is at her best when she abandons Alcottian gentility to describe Sophie's appearance on a TV melodrama. Donnelly's light, spirited tale about modern women with old-fashioned values benefits from its colorful Islington, London, locale. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Donnelly's (The Girl in the Photograph) latest chronicles the lives of the descendants of Louisa May Alcott's March family. Specifically, Donnelly explores what the great-great-granddaughters of the dynamic Jo would be like. Sisters Emma, Lulu, and Sophie are all as different as can be, but they struggle equally to determine what types of lives they want. Lulu in particular feels she doesn't have the same luck in love as her older sister, Emma, nor the same direction for a career as her younger one. When Lulu stumbles upon the letters of Jo March, a new world that is different in time but similar in its themes is revealed to her as well as a kinship to the relative she never met. VERDICT Donnelly starts with a great premise, but readers have to keep track of lots of characters. The dialog and plot are sometimes slowed by contrived transitions. Still, fans of Little Women may enjoy this reinterpretation.-Anne M. Miskewitch, Chicago P.L. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"Donnelly's "The Little Women Letters" imagines how modern versions of the March sisters might have lived. . . . Donnelly writes with obvious passion for the classic take and successfully applies a fresh sensibility to the three modern sisters. Nostalgic without being deferential, jocular without being flippant...Beautifully crafted." --"Booklist"