Literary First Love – Amy Hill Hearth

Today’s post by Amy Hill Hearth

Amy Hill Hearth

From the time I was very small and, in fact, before I could read, I was aware that I had been named after a character in a novel.

That book was Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN.   My mother, as she so often told me, had been re-reading it while she was pregnant with me, the youngest of her four children. Back when I was born in the late 1950s, labor was not induced as commonly as it is today.   A late baby was a late baby. I was supposed to be born on my dad’s birthday, March 29. When that didn’t happen, the doctor predicted April 1 but my mother, not wanting me to be burdened with an April Fool’s Day birthday, stayed very still all day in the hope that she could hold off my birth another day.   Her plan worked too well: I wasn’t born until April 10. As my petite mother grew larger and larger (I weighed 9.2 pounds by the time I arrived), and more and more impatient for my arrival, she turned to literature as a way to divert and calm herself.  She escaped into the familiar company of Marmee and her four daughters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March.

I am probably one of the youngest persons ever to read LITTLE WOMEN. My connection to the book made it irresistible. I was perhaps 7 or 8, so I didn’t comprehend parts of it. I spent a lot of time asking my mother questions and running to the dictionary to figure out the meaning of certain words.

I was a little shocked that Amy March was not the nicest or most admirable of the four daughters. Of course, this required an explanation from my mother.   She explained that Meg was short for Margaret, and Jo was an abbreviated form of Josephine. Neither of those names was particularly popular when I was born, and she hadn’t wanted me to be burdened with a name I didn’t like.   (This is the same woman who tried not to give birth to me on April Fool’s Day, after all.) She went on to say that she could not possibly have named me after the third sister, Beth, because poor little Beth dies in the novel.

Besides, Amy was the youngest of four children, and blonde, just as I was.

I re-read the novel about once a year, and as time went on, I grew to appreciate Amy March. While on first reading she seemed like a whiny little twit, her antics began to seem more charming through my adult eyes.

When I began writing my own novel, I couldn’t resist finding a way to mention LITTLE WOMEN. Set in Collier County, Florida, circa 1962, MISS DREAMSVILLE is the story of a middle-aged wife and mother from Boston who moves to the area with her family, and instantly manages to offend almost everyone in the small, Southern town. One of the first things she does is start a reading group. And, of course, one of the books they read is LITTLE WOMEN.

It’s my way of paying tribute to Louisa May Alcott as well as to my mom, who is now 87 years old.

We’re giving away a copy of Amy’s debut novel MISS DREAMSVILLE AND THE COLLIER COUNTY WOMEN’S LITERARY SOCIETY. Simply leave a comment on this post and we’ll toss your name in the hat. (U.S. residents only)

A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo.

In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and anonymously hosts a radio show, calling herself Miss Dreamsville.

The racially segregated town falls in love with Miss Dreamsville, but doesn’t know what to make of Jackie, who welcomes everyone into her book club, including a woman who did prison time for allegedly killing her husband, a man of questionable sexual preference, a young divorcee, as well as a black woman.

By the end of this novel, you’ll be wiping away the tears of laugher and sadness, and you just may become a bit more hopeful that even the most hateful people can see the light of humanitarianism, if they just give themselves a chance.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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19 Responses to Literary First Love – Amy Hill Hearth

  1. Elisabeth November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    We have something in common, I also started a Book Group when I moved to a new town! Can not wait to read this book!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Patti Smith November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a very interesting read! :) Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  3. Elizabeth Towns November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I cannot wait to read this book. It sounds like one that will pull the reader in emotionally and mentally. I’m ready for that!

  4. Glynis November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a fabulous book! Putting it on my to-read list!

  5. Gean November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a good read – sign me up!

  6. Melinda K Taylor November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    j HAVE ALWAYS LOVED lITTLE WOMEN. THIS BOOK SOUNDS VERY INTERESTING. WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A COPY FOR THE GRANDAUGHTERS.

  7. Becky S November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    You had me at “Little Women”! On my top 10 list all time!

  8. Linda November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I love Little Women! It is a good read anytime for any of us. Thank you for the book giveaway. I have put it on my reading list.

  9. Katherine Jones November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Fun! I love hearing the story behind the name as much I do the story behind the story.

  10. Nancy Reynolds November 9, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Loved your story – about how you got your name, and how you revisit Little Women by reading it yearly. I happen to love Little Women (even though I am not named after any of the characters). I have my mother’s copy of the book – and read it when I was young (but not 7 or 8). I would love to be the lucky winner of your book. However, even if I don’t win, I’ll be reading it because it sounds GREAT. Best of luck with it. Nancy

  11. Charlotte Lynn November 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Little Women is my all time favorite book. Although I have to say Jo is my favorite, but I wouldn’t name my child Josephine either.

  12. Susan G. November 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks! Looks like a great book! Wanted to point out one little thing…we were to “leave a comment” and you will “toss our name in the ‘hate’”. Just toss it in the ‘hat’, there’s much too much ‘hate’ going on in this world. Sorry, couldn’t resist…I just see those things… :)
    Susan G.

  13. Shannon Brown November 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Well Little Women has been my favorite book since I was in 4th grade when I read it for the 1st time.. I remember it was the first book that made me cry… I remember fighting back the tears as Beth dies, and I have never been the same since! I fell in love with the March family… I realized then how I could escape into another place and time, in a book… I am so glad that I read that book, because since then I have taken hundreds of journeys to other countries, and time traveled. All with the help of great books and great authors… Shannon Brown

  14. Ariel November 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks, Susan! I’m allergic to typos. :-) It’s fixed.

    And thanks to everyone who commented today. I love seeing your thoughts about Little Women and fiction in general.

  15. Leah November 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This sounds like such a wonderful book! I love her story about being named after the youngest March sister. I love all the March girls, but I agree with Amy, that Amy March does have redeeming qualities that you don’t notice the first time around. Can’t wait to read this Amy’s book now.

  16. Nicole November 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Yay — a new, fun read! Count me in!

  17. Susan Coster November 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I cried when I finished this….it was so heartwarming. I would like to win a copy for a dear friend.

  18. Susan Coster November 12, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    What a heartwarming novel…..would love to win.

  19. Janet Estridge November 16, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to win a copy of this book and my husband would love to win that car.
    Thanks for entering me in the contest.

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