Adventures in Reading


Fiction: A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott perhaps best known for her novel Little Women (or the various film adaptations of it), which Alcott referred to as her “moral pap for the young,” much to my surprise had also written a good amount of other works. When I stumbled across A Long Fatal Love Chase at the library book sale, a book espousing on the cover “He stalker her every step—for she had become his obsession….” I couldn’t resist and in my continuing excursion to read the teetering stacks of books I already own I jumped right in.

A Long Fatal Love Chase is extremely different than Little Women. Alcott went to Europe with a friend for a trip much like a Grand Tour and upon returning immediately began writing to help with her family’s financial troubles. Alcott was asked to write 24-chapters for a pulp magazine though A Long Fatal Love Chase was not published until after Alcott’s death. It’s a romantic, dark, and scandalous novel of the fair Rosamond falling in love with the fiendish but dashing Philip Tempest. They marry and lead a gay life until Rosamond discovers that she has been duped: Tempest was already married.

If one of the Brontë sisters had taken it into her head to write a sweeping melodrama that unfolded across various countries of Europe from villas to impoverished apartments to mental asylums, Alcott’s novel would have been a reasonably good comparison. A Long Fatal Love Chase follows the story’s heroine as she attempts to escape Tempest and pursue her own freedom. The editor Kent Bicknell reminds the reader of Alcott’s reoccurring themes of “quest for physical, financial, intellectual, and spiritual independence” running through the novel.

I found the book fairly reminiscent of earlier novels such as Clarissa and the works of Radcliffe. Though Rosamond is not nearly as simpering or delicate as these other heroines, she does succumb to a rather pornographic death finale as if Tempest cannot have her no man will. Alcott is also a bit heavy handed with the symbolism and foreshadowing. Every second chapter of the book is also written as a bit of a cliffhanger and all together Alcott produced quite the sensational and titillating read. A Long Fatal Love Chase is a great contrast novel for anyone who has read her little men and women stories.

This book is available through Bookmooch.

Other opinions: the Book Mine Set.

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