Posted by: jeannineatkins | October 19, 2015

Bringing May Alcott Back Home to Concord

On a beautiful fall afternoon, my friend Melodye Shore, who flew in from California, and I took in some Concord, Massachusetts sites. We shivered a little at Walden Pond, where many people admired bright leaves and two hardly folks swam. We didn’t have time to tour Orchard House, but walked by. We visited Author’s Ledge at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and I left sunflowers at May Alcott’s gravestone.


Then we headed over to the Barrow Bookstore, decked out with blue balloons and welcoming signs. Here I am with Aladdine, who manages the amazing collection of used books within the building that has Alcott connections.

alladine lightened


Her sister, Jaimee, also greeted me warmly, saying how they felt as if May Alcott was coming home. I think we all felt a bit of May’s presence as I talked about her in the lovely book lined room filled with good friends, my daughter, and readers of all sorts, including members of a book club who’d spent their day doing Alcott-y things and seemed happy to shift their gaze from Louisa more onto May. There might have been a few Bronson Alcott jokes, or was it historic fact or memory? I read a line or two from a collection of the writings of Rose Hawthorne, daughter of writer Nathaniel and painter Sophia, which I’d bought in the shop a while ago. Rose recalled that her father’s retiring habits were never more evident than when Bronson Alcott approached the house. “I remember that my observation was attracted to him curiously from the fact that my mother’s eyes changed to a darker gray at Mr. Alcott’s advents, as they did only when she was silently sacrificing herself.”


After talking and book signing, here I am happy to sit with writers Carol Peacock, Pat Lowery Collins, and Sarah Lamstein.


Aladdine and Jaimee set me off with some sweet gifts: sachets printed with Alcott quotes and a trusty water bottle printed with that barrow. But I already had treasures in stories from the books and each other, moving in and out among us.

I hope eastern Mass. friends who couldn’t make this reading might come to one this Friday at Porter Square Books. I was told that it’s not unknown for a small book tour to go from Barrow Bookstore’s purple and yellow walls to stand among the shinier books in this also-welcoming store. I look forward to seeing more friends and readers in Cambridge!



  1. This sounds like such fun – and you had a glorious Fall weekend for it!

    • Yes, fun, and Massachusetts was on its best behavior for my California friend!

  2. I loved touring Concord with you, Jeannine, and felt privileged to see firsthand some of the places the Alcott sisters once called home. What a beautiful area—Mother Nature was wearing her autumn finery, wasn’t she? And thought the air was brisk, the skies were impossibly blue and bathed in sunlight. It was almost as if May herself was smiling down on you that afternoon.

    I loved, too, that you brought May into The Barrow Bookstore, in the form of your lovely new book, and that you described for us your research and writing processes. How fun, to see you (and Little Woman in Blue) received so warmly by that standing-room-only crowd!

    It was a rich, full day that I’ll remember always…

    • It meant a lot that you traveled so far to join me, and I’m glad it was all we could wish for. Yes, a fabulous day!

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