Zoom author talk on Louisa May Alcott in 1870’s New York City

By: Elaine Silber, Co-Chair P&D Committee

Zoom author talk on Louisa May Alcott in 1870’s New York City

On the evening of October 20th, the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association Preservation & Design Committee hosted a live Zoom author talk and discussion with Lorraine Tosiello, author of Only Gossip Prospers. This historical novel, shaped from Louisa May Alcott’s letters and journals, gives a portrait of Louisa May Alcott during the winter of 1875 that she spent in New York City.  The novel skillfully mixes fact with fiction and wonderfully captures the character of New York City at that time. Tosiello gives detailed descriptions of the architecture, mansions, salons, department stores and the people Alcott met or might have met during her stay.  The book even has a chapter on Murray Hill, described as a neighborhood of townhouses and noble brownstones. 

A lifelong enthusiast of Little Women, Tosiello shared her extensive knowledge of Louisa May Alcott in a very captivating manner.  We learned that Alcott’s iconic novel Little Women has never been out of print in 150 years, and has been translated into over 54 languages. She also wrote 8 juvenile novels, 5 adult novels, and hundreds of adult and children’s short stories.

With a first-rate slideshow of historic photographs to accompany her talk, Tosiello  showed us the mansions and homes near Fifth Avenue and Murray Hill.  Her depiction of Anne Lynch Botta’s famous literary salon frequented by Alcott and other writers of the day made us feel as if we were back in late 19th century New York City.

A strong, compassionate, independent woman, Louisa May Alcott was influenced by the suffragists and abolitionists of her time.  She believed in human rights, women’s rights, education of immigrant girls and prison reform—a feminist, clearly ahead of her time.  

Tosiello graciously answered questions from the Zoom audience that were submitted by “chat” at the end of the presentation. Her book is a wonderful homage to Louisa May Alcott’s writing and we eagerly look forward to her next novel.

Published by Pink Umbrella Books Only Gossip Prospers can also be purchased online at your local bookstore or at Amazon.

Screen snapshot of the Zoom event showing photo of Louisa May Alcott and author Lorraine Tosiello speaking about her book Only Gossip Prospers.