More tea on ONLY GOSSIP PROSPERS: Part 2

Join us as we celebrate Pink Umbrella’s newest historical fiction author, Lorraine Tosiello, before the December release of Only Gossip Prospers. The book deftly blends fact and fiction to draw a realistic portrait of Louisa May Alcott’s sojourn in New York City at the height of her fame in 1875.

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Lorraine Tosiello: physician, writer, Manhattanite and Louisa May Alcott superfan and scholar.
Your book is filled with powerful and creative women: journalists, activists, actresses, etc. How does Only Gossip Prosper speak to the lives of creative women? 

That’s what it really is all about! These remarkable women Louisa mentions in her diaries, the movers and shakers of not only the feminine thought but the liberal thought of New York of 1875, have been obscured through time. How is it that we do not know the names of Anne Lynch Botta, Jane Croly and Abigail Hopper Gibbons? It’s an example of “HIStory” overshadowing “HERstory.” Part of my mission is to shine a light on the brilliance of these women.  Creative women, Louisa in particular, were constantly evaluated in the light of their gender in the nineteenth century. Louisa would of course have grappled with these two questions: “Is my work judged differently because I am a woman?” and “Is my art different because I am a woman?” Louisa embraced the feminine in her masterwork, Little Women, elevating the domestic in importance. But in her adult short stories she grappled with themes that touched on the darker side of human nature, and chose to hide her gender in the byline, writing anonymously or under the moniker AM Barnard.  Perhaps to have a woman’s name on those stories would have cut the readership in half, as men were not likely to read a story written by a woman. And don’t think things have changed much—just ask J.K Rowling!

To follow that up, Virginia Woolf famously said that a woman writer must have two things: a room of her own (preferably with lock and key) and enough money to support herself. Was this true for Louisa? Do you find it true for writing women today as well?

Absolutely, although for Louisa I would add to “enough money to support herself”  “or, so few corporal needs that poverty does not diminish her.” When Louisa started out her family really DID give her a room of her own, one in what is now the Wayside Inn, with not only a lock but a door to the outside where she could slip out and refresh her mind and spirits. They DID leave her alone in her “vortex” when she was writing, unaccosted by the day to day cares of the household. Of course, once the story or chapter or poem was complete, Louisa would reemerge to take up her daily grind in the household. Throughout her life, this was her pattern; she would steal away to a garret in Boston and write and write. For me, I have my room at the beach, just a small space with a little white desk and a computer (and the inevitable beach bunk beds for guests). Quiet winter days are so ripe for writing! 

Louisa was able to get along with her writing even before she had the money to support herself.  It is the same for writing women today. No one can count on making a living from writing, and yet, thousands of people every day are refreshed and inspired by the act of writing, by putting words in cogent sentences on to paper, by expressing ideas finely. So, write! But don’t quit your day job.


Only Gossip Prospers releases on December 10, 2019. Preorder it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble today!

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