A hasty, ill-advised marriage to a fiendish rake, a doomed devotion between a handsome young priest and the lovely, desperate girl he’s befriended…
No, not Collen McCullough’s THE THORN BIRDS but A LONG FATAL LOVE CHASE by Louisa May Alcott.
Written in 1866 a few years before Alcott’s revered classic, LITTLE WOMEN, A LONG FATAL LOVE CHASE was never published in Alcott’s lifetime. Deemed “too sensational” (translation: too risque) by her male publisher, the book was shelved among her private papers for more than a century and only rediscovered and published in the 1990’s.
As a middle school student, I adored LITTLE WOMEN and well, A LONG FATAL LOVE CHASE is not it. Written for serialization to keep the author’s perennially impoverished family of Transcendentalist intellectuals out of the poorhouse, the book is more penny dreadful than great novel. Still, the themes Alcott addresses–stalking, spousal abuse, bigamy, and a woman’s right to independence and freedom–resonate with a raw contemporary clarity.
As the title suggests, A LONG FATAL LOVE CHASE doesn’t end happily. Despite the every other chapter cliffhanger (it was meant to be serialized), the only true suspense is for whom the chase will prove fatal. The hastily pulled together ending answers that with no real surprises, leaving the reader not so much satisfied as relieved. Like Alcott’s heroine, Rosamund, we too are weary and ready for the chase to end.
Still, A LONG FATAL CHASE is worth a read for Alcott fans as well as fans of 19th century “women’s” literature, a literary tradition that still fascinates and inspires us today. For a wonderful paranormal YA Victorian Gothic romance in the tradition of Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (only with a happy ending!), read DARKER STILL by my Lady Jane’s Salon co-founder, Leanna Renee Hieber.
Speaking of Lady Jane’s, do join us on Monday, February 6th, 7-10PM at Madame X, for Lady Jane’s Third Anniversary Salon. It’s our third year birthday bash and we’re celebrating with our usual lineup of fabo readers including S.b. Sarah Wendell, Lauren Willig, and Eloisa James! Special EOY contribution to our charitable recipient, Women-in-Need. Sponsors: Chambord Vodka (“Pink Your Drink”) and Beatrice.com.
Happy Month of Hearts & Flowers,