ISBN-13: 9780440223016
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Published: December 1996
368 pgs
Source: Personal Library

Do you know that Louisa May Alcott had written A Long Fatal Love Chase two years before the publication of her well-known, beloved Little Women? Considered too sensational to be published in the author's lifetime (that was in 1866), this book was buried among her other papers and in 1993, this caught the attention of editor, Kent Bicknell, and through good fortune and a generous backer enabled him to purchase it the following year (This information was printed on the last page of the book).

18-year-old Rosamond Vivian lives with her grandfather in a remote island. There isn't any mention of her parents or friends so it is no wonder she hopes to escape this lonely, isolated life of her.

"I'd gladly sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom," cries impetuous Rosamond Vivian to her callous grandfather.
Her wish was granted when a sauve, charismatic adventurer Phillip Tempest stopped by their house. Phillip was a student of Rosamond's grandfather so needless to say, he is twice of her age but this does not stop Rosamond from being attracted to him and on top of that, she is fascinated by his adventures as he always seems to be travelling in his yacht.

On the other end, Phillip too is attracted by Rosamond's charm and naivety, but his intentions are far more dark and dangerous because he is obsessed with her and he wants her to be with him together. Through a game with Rosamond's grandfather, he has cleverly beaten him and his prize is having Rosamond to leave with him. Initially Rosamond rejected the idea, however she is no match to the sweet-talker Phillip so in no time she left the island to be with him, having the thoughts that Phillip will marry her eventually. They settled down in Nice, and it takes a while for Rosamond to discover that not only Phillip has no plans to marry her but also he is a married man and has a son whom she later suspected he was being murdered by Phillip in a fit of anger.

Shocked and frightened for her safety, Rosamond planned for an escape. From gaining a new identity to becoming a sister in a convent as she travels around Europe, and no matter where she goes Phillip always managed to close the distance between them. Rosamond flees again and found a new life through a friend's father during the escape, but her hope of finding safety and freedom is once again dashed after Phillip began to spin lies about her, telling everyone that she is mentally unstabled.

At the point of reading the above scenario, I got the feeling that it would be a dead end to Rosamond, and that there is no hope of redemption for Phillip although Rosamond has secretly wishes that she would be able to reform him but I was not convinced, and most of all I didn't trust him and at some point I was frustrated with Rosamond for thinking she has some feelings for him. It was only later that I realised that that is the beauty of Rosamond; she has a pure and childlike naivety around her and perhaps this is what attracted Phillip from the beginning.

In most cases, when there is a villian to the story, there is bound to be a hero. Rosamond got acquainted with Father Ignatius when she took refuge in the convent where she's known as "Sister Agatha". Rosamond began to develop feelings for him towards the end but his position as a priest is the obstacle. Although A Long Fatal Love Chase can be classified as a gothic thriller, I see the author had also emphasised a strong feminist element to the story as we can tell this from Rosamond's thoughts right from the beginning. She craves for freedom, and she has no fear in obtaining what she wants. I was definitely in awe of her courage and persistence, for I don't think most women during her time would do the same as what she did. Below passage is one fine example that demonstrate her believing in feminism.
"Suppose I broke away and left you, or made it impossible for you to stay. That I was base and false; in every way unworthy of your love, and it was clearly right for you to go, what would you do then?"

"Go away and–"

He interrupted with a triumphant laugh, "Die as heroines always do, tender slaves as they are."

"No, live and forget you", was the unexpected reply.
(Page 62-63)
The ending is not what I had expected, but I can definitely see myself reading more of Louisa May Alcott's books in the near future.
11 Responses
  1. Violet Says:

    I've had not heard of this book but it sounds sooooo good. Thanks for the review Mel.

  2. Ladytink_534 Says:

    Little Women is one of my favorite and most re-read books but other than Little Men and Jo's Boys, I've never read anything else by this author.

  3. Ana S. Says:

    I was curious about this because I imagine they're the kind of stories Jo writes at first in Little Women - and the hints of feminism make me want to read it all the more!

  4. Veens Says:

    I have not heard of this book! Thanks this is something gr8! I really want to read Little Women too. The story is definitely intriguing!

  5. Darlyn Says:

    It is great! I bet I have to find it if my Uni library got it. Thanks for the review =)

  6. Julia Says:

    I love LITTLE WOMEN had have read it plenty of time. Unfortunately I lost the book somewhere...hmm. But there been lot movie base from the books, and IMO it doesn't do much justice to the book. But they were a good movie though :)

    Glad you enjoy A LONG FATAL LOVE CHASE, am thinking of grabing a copy of this book, since I love LITTLE WOMEN so much :)

  7. Iliana Says:

    Doesn't this sound totally different in style from Little Women? I must add this to my list. Great review Melody!

  8. bermudaonion Says:

    I hadn't heard of this discovery either. I'll definitely have to look for it. Thanks for your review.

  9. The Bookworm Says:

    I had no idea she wrote this, how interesting.
    Little Women is such a nice read.
    Great review ;)

  10. A hidden treasure! I am glad this book came to light finally. It sounds like a good one.

  11. I find the contrast between the two covers displayed in this post to be most interesting. Both look so contemporary, while the first looks straight-up mass-market romance (the fonts, the drama...) and the second looks like standard, bland "literary" fiction. And yet compare this to the typical "Little Women" cover... Those stress the "classic" nature of "Little Women", while these look like newly published novels. And both so different from each other... Fascinating!

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