August 4, 2016

Looking Back - A Long Fatal Love Chase

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

1995 Random House
Finished on June 21, 1996
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Written in 1866, this heretofore undiscovered gem by the author of Little Women tells the story of Rosamund Vivian, an intelligent, strong-willed, 18-year-old young woman who longs for adventure. But when she marries a wealthy, jaded young man, and is swept off to Europe, Rosamund too soon learns that her new husband is not as he had presented himself.

From Wikipedia:

In 1866, Louisa May Alcott toured Europe for the first time; being poor, she traveled as the paid companion of an invalid. Upon her return, she found her family in financial straits, so when publisher James R. Elliot asked her to write another novel suitable for serialisation in the magazine The Flag of Our Union (mockingly referred to as The Weekly Volcano in Little Women), Alcott dashed off a 292-page Gothic romance entitled A Modern Mephistopheles, or The Fatal Love Chase. She gave the novel a European setting and incorporated many of her still-fresh travel experiences and observations; Elliot, however, rejected it for being "too long & too sensational!", whereupon she changed the title to Fair Rosamond and undertook extensive revisions to shorten the novel and tone down its more controversial elements. Despite these changes, the book was again rejected, and Alcott laid the manuscript aside.

Fair Rosamond ended up in Harvard's Houghton Library. The earlier draft was auctioned off by Alcott's heirs and eventually fell into the hands of a Manhattan rare book dealer. In 1994, Kent Bicknell, headmaster of the Sant Bani School in Sanbornton, New Hampshire, paid "more than his annual salary but less than $50,000" for the unexpurgated version of the manuscript. After restoring it, he sold the publication rights to Random House, receiving a $1.5 million advance. Bicknell donated 25% of the profits to Orchard House (the museum of the Alcott Family), 25% to the Alcott heirs, and 25% to the Sant Bani School.

In 1995, Random House released the novel in a hardbound edition under the title A Long Fatal Love Chase. It became a best-seller, and an audiobook version soon followed. The novel is still in print (September 2007) as a trade paperback from Dell Books.

My Original Notes (1996):

Pretty good. Certainly started off very well and kept my interest. I really couldn't put it down. Very suspenseful. Then it began to sound a lot like a Sidney Sheldon novel (Rage of Angels, I think.)

Lots of symbolism - birds, roses, storms.

Tempest was such a villain! I hated him. So wicked. And Rosamond continued to be tempted by him, in spite of his evil ways.

Lots of similarities to Jane Eyre. Young orphan falls in love with a married man (unknowingly), to name just one.

My Current Thoughts:

I think I had high expectations for this novel, but was ultimately disappointed. Too much of a bodice-ripper for my taste.


  1. I remember when this came out and there was so much buzz about it. I never got around to reading it but I think it's one of those books that's become a definite shelf-sitter. I must have it somewhere.

    1. Iliana, you'll have to let me know what you think if you do decide to give it a read.

  2. I was unaware of this one. I imagine if Alcott were dashing it off quickly to try to raise money for her family, she was largely trying to write for what she perceived to be the public's taste at the time which may account for the bodice-ripper feel. Although, I also think quite a lot of her books may have been written this way - solely to make money.

    1. I think you're right about the money-making idea, Lisa. And, of course, the time it was written may account for the romancy-feel to the narrative.


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