Posted by: jeannineatkins | July 10, 2015

Painting a Way Home: Talk at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

I played Little Women, dressing up in my grandmother’s old clothes, before I read the novel from the bookshelf my sister and I shared. We watched the Katherine Hepburn movie on TV, and I loved the drama of deep hope found in the ordinary lives of girls. I remember standing outside of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House with my family and cousins when I was about ten, and quietly freaking out at being so close to the place where one of my favorite stories began. I don’t remember going inside. Maybe we got there too late, or maybe our parents decided not to spend the money on a tour. If I’d seen Louisa’s half-moon-shaped desk where she wrote Little Women I might have fainted. Louisa May Alcott made me feel that one day I could become a writer, too.

It’s beyond thrilling – but I won’t faint! — that next Wednesday I’ll be speaking not in Orchard House, but just next door, at the Summer Conversational Series. I’ll always adore Louisa, but as many of you know, I’ve spent much of the past years obsessed with her artistic sister, May, the subject of my forthcoming novel, Little Woman in Blue. My talk is “May Alcott: Painting a Way Home.” I’ll discuss the spirit of place in nineteenth century Concord, and May’s connections to rivers, ponds, houses, and watercolors. Check out registration information at the link, and come if you can!


And thanks to my daughter, Emily, for taking this picture of me at Orchard House just past lilac season.


  1. Swooning with & for you, Jeannine! Couldn’t be happier for the Little Woman In Blue, at last receiving her due–and of course, you! You’ve painted May’s story so beautifully, in novel form. Wish I could also hear your talk!

    • Thank you! Hopefully there will be a venue where you can listen, and I will be grateful for your smile.

      • I hope so, more than you can possibly imagine. A dream that I’ll work very hard to make come true.

        How did your talk go? I’ve been thinking about it (and you) all day!!!

        • Hi – thanks for the good wishes. I managed to get up my slides (my biggest anxiety) and the talk seemed well received. xo

          • Whew, technical stuff is sometimes the most difficult to manage. Quite the birthday celebration, wouldn’t you say? 🙂 xo

  2. That is so cool! Congrats!

    • Thank you. I’ve been so focused on getting the talk right, that I’ve been forgetting until now to remember how cool it is. It can take a while, but a girl’s dreams can come true!

  3. How delightful! I can’t wait to read May’s story, Jeannine. Alcott and Bronte inspired me to write, and I always imagined myself as Jo, with ink stained pockets full of scraps of novels in progress.

    • Thanks, Tara. I think there is a very big club of all us women writers who channeled Jo. And a very nice club it is!

  4. When does it come out? I can’t wait to read it.

    • Thank you, Linda! It comes out Sept. 15 (but pre-orders and library requests are so welcome now!)

  5. I am so happy to see you amidst this fabulous lineup, Jeannine. Have fun!
    I wish I could be there.

    • It was a lot of fun! I was telling some people about the passionate people you’ve met at Emily Dickinson House, too.

  6. That’s a beautiful circle you’ve made, Jeannine. I wish I could hear your sure-to-be wonderful talk. xo

    • Thank you, Amy. I thought of you walking by the river, and the memorable talk we had there. The garden by the Old Manse was very green with corn and cabbages, and things I didn’t recognize: all planted based on journals, and sent to food banks in Boston. xo

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