About the Book
‘What it’s like to be tormented by having a writer of books in your family. What it’s like to be tortured by having a scamp in your tutelage.’
‘Well, that surely took hours.’Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz
Bestselling authors Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz bring us a romantic retelling of Little Women starring Jo March and her best friend, the boy next door, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence.
Remember who you are. She would not let herself be pamperedMargaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz
1869, Concord, Massachusetts: After the publication of her first novel, Jo March is shocked to discover her book of scribbles has become a bestseller, and her publisher and fans demand a sequel. While pressured into coming up with a story, she goes to New York with her dear friend Laurie for a week of inspiration—museums, operas, and even a once-in-a-lifetime reading by Charles Dickens himself!
But Laurie has romance on his mind, and despite her growing feelings, Jo’s desire to remain independent leads her to turn down his heartfelt marriage proposal and sends the poor boy off to college heartbroken. When Laurie returns to Concord with a sophisticated new girlfriend, will Jo finally communicate her true heart’s desire or lose the love of her life forever?
Everything past was prologue, including the fact that both of them had loved, and been rejected by, other people. Only the future mattered now.Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz
Perhaps one of the most known (and argued about) “romances” is the one between Jo March and Theodore Laurence. Growing up I was obsessed with Little Women and because of the chemistry between Christian Bale and Winona Ryder I thought that Jo and Laurie had to be endgame and refused to believe anything else, even if the book said so. HOWEVER, when I went to see the new Little Women film, and promptly reread the novel afterwards, I found myself rethinking my resolute belief that Jo and Laurie should be together. However, regardless of my currently wavering beliefs in this timeless love triangle, you best believe I was beyond excited when I found out about this book. For Jo & Laurie poses the question of: what would happen if these two star-crossed lovers actually did end up together?
What was happening was alternately dull and frightening.Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz
Ok, so I realize that this book is going to be VERY dividing. I can understand why some people would be upset about this retelling, since Jo was meant to be an independent woman, but I was still overly excited for this book and am just taking it as an exciting “what if” instead of a slight on an epic work of literature. But I most definitely thought of the Winona and Christian Jo and Laurie while reading this book.
This family.Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz
This book was like a walk down memory lane (even though I just reread Little Women this year). It was such an endearing take on beloved characters and I truly enjoyed reading the reimagined version of such a well known and discussed story. And that’s what this story was, it was about the characters and their relationships. But it is important to remember that while these are the characters we know and love, they’re also the authors’ take on these beloved characters. So they are both the same and different and new. So go into this book expecting a new story that reminisces the original.
About the Authors
She is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.
Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.
She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).
She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.
She is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling
Margaret Stohl is a #1 New York Times bestselling nerd, world-builder, video game creator, comic book writer and festival founder.
As an award-winning young adult author, she has been published in fifty countries and thirty-two languages and has sold more than ten million books worldwide. Beautiful Creatures debuted as the Amazon #1 Teen book of the year; seven of Margaret’s books have reached bestseller lists around the world.
She has published fifteen novels and graphic novels, as well as contributed to several games and countless comics since her debut. Her last book, Cats Vs Robots: This is War, was a family affair, illustrated by her child, the artist Kay Peterson, and co-written with her husband, Lewis Peterson. It also starred three of her family’s five cats.
After Beautiful Creatures was released as a feature film from Warner Brothers and Alcon Entertainment, Margaret began working with Marvel on her bestselling Black Widow: Forever Red duology; in 2017 she began writing the ongoing Mighty Captain Marvel comic, followed by the acclaimed Life of Captain Marvel miniseries, where she established a new origin story for Carol Danvers in preparation for the theatrical debut of Brie Larson as “Captain Marvel” for the MCU.
When not roaming the halls of Seattle game developer Bungie – where she oversees the creation of new global IPs – Margaret can often be seen at a Comicon or at one of the teen and youth book festivals she co-founded, YALLFEST (Charleston, SC) and YALLWEST (Santa Monica, CA), the largest in the country. Wherever she goes, you can find out more about her (and invariably her cats) at @mstohl on twitter or margaret_stohl on instagram or margaret_stohl on snapchat or at mstohl.com.
Before You Begin . . .
The story that we now think of as Little Women was originally published as two separate volumes written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868 and 1869.
In those pages, Jo March—one of young adult literature’s most beloved writers and sisters—writes and publishes the story of her life with her family at Orchard House.
Our own reimagined story takes place between the two volumes, after the success of the first, as Jo struggles to write the second.
Just as we expect “Lu” did.
—MS & MdlC
The Offices of Roberts Brothers, Publishers and Bookbinders
Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts
“Little Women? That’s the title?” The author looked concerned. Above her light brown eyes and beneath her threadbare linen cap, the chestnut curls that framed her face were shaking. Miss Josephine March was all of seventeen years old, and though her girlish curves were slight, her spirit was immense.
There was nothing little about her, or her characters.
Or so she had thought.
The book in question—a volume of domestic stories, loosely inspired by her own family—was one she hadn’t wanted to write, had in fact steadfastly refused to write, until her editor had offered a notably unrefusable royalty, instead of the usual piffling advance. Only then had she dashed off a dozen chapters in a fit of pique. To her dismay, he’d loved them, and she’d had no choice but to finish the final chapters, which she’d come to deliver now.
And lo—insult beyond injury—it would be called Little Women.
“Isn’t it perfect?” Mr. Thomas Niles beamed at her over his spectacles. Her editor at Boston’s (moderately) respected and (moderately) solvent Roberts Brothers Press, Niles felt he had developed some (moderate) expertise in the publishing industry. His authors, at times, disagreed.
This was one of those times.
“Far from it!” Jo drew a worn cambric handkerchief square from her pinafore pocket and dabbed dramatically at the corner of her left eye, although both author and editor knew there was no actual tear to be wiped away.
Only fury, and there’s not a cambric square big enough in the world for that—
“It’s dismissive!” Jo seethed. “It’s pap!”
“Oh?” Niles pushed his spectacles back up the bridge of his bulbous red nose. “How so?”
“It’s . . . trite!” Jo dropped the handkerchief upon the bundled pages in front of her. They were tied with string, the requested final chapters, as painstakingly inked as the others before them. Her hands hovered, as always, just above the parcel; it was never easy, letting go of the fruit of so many stolen hours in her damp writing garret under the attic eaves, where she’d burnt her last saved stumps of candle-wax—as well as her fingers—and ruined her eyes in the service of one of these so-called little stories. The nerve!
“Trivial!” Jo huffed.
“When you say trivial,” Niles began, “do you mean—?”
“For starters, that’s not a title, it’s a literal restatement of the very essence of the plot,” Jo interrupted.
He eyed the parcel hungrily. “Yes, and I’m told it’s charming.
Jo’s head-shake was very nearly violent. “It’s not charming. I’m not charming.” After making a living writing her customary blood-and-thunder tales—or so she thought of them—this business of feminine tradition and treacle was all very unfamiliar. To be fair, with the exception of her sisters, Jo knew and liked hardly any girls at all.
“You’re very charming, Miss March. Nearly as charming as your book,” Niles said, looking amused. “And a tribute to little women everywhere.” He pulled a tin from his outer vest pocket. “Peppermint?”
Buying time with sweets, again. Niles offered them up only when he found himself in a tough conversational crossroads, Jo knew.
So that’s it, then.
There really is no changing the title.
“Thank you, no.” Jo looked out the window as a horse and carriage clattered up Washington Street, spraying mud in every direction, including onto the glass of the (moderately) well-kept Roberts Brothers offices. She tried not to wring her hands in despair and failed. “I suppose it is what it is. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what you call it. I dashed the thing off in weeks, and for what?”
“Money,” Niles said. “The almighty dollar. Which you happen to need, not unlike the rest of us. Speaking of earning your wage, are those the chapters you owe me?” He reached for the bundled pages between them.
“It’s not about earning my wages,” Jo said, tightening her grip on the manuscript. “Not just about that.” She’d written it on assignment, because Niles was experimenting beyond the standard Continental Gothic that came flowing from Jo’s pen so easily.
And, yes, because of the money.
The result was a collection of domestic moments, sure, but it had surprised even her; it wasn’t just feminine drivel, even if the title might perhaps now doom it to be. She hadn’t expected it to come as quickly as it had, or as pleasantly. Not that she would admit that to her editor. “Money’s not a reason. Not a proper one, anyway.” Even if we are poor as rats.
“Many people—most—seem to think otherwise,” Niles said, yanking his handkerchief from his pocket and mopping his brow, which was beginning to perspire as they argued. He was never without a handkerchief; decades of sobbing authors, Jo suspected, had trained him thus.
“Not all people,” she sniffed.
“Certainly my investors do. You aren’t the only family with war debts, you know.”
Jo had no answer for that, for he was right. She supposed she would never be considered a real writer now, never be taken seriously by the public. Never invited to lecture at the Athenaeum with Ralph and Henry and . . . Who was that other chap? Perhaps this was what happened to feminine scribblers who aspired above their little place in the Concord world.
Strike another blow to the weaker sex—and all that rot.
“Charming,” she sighed.
“Ideally, you’ve written equally charming last chapters as well.” Niles eyed the stack hopefully. “Seeing as my typesetters have very nearly caught up with you.”
Jo snorted, which was a good indication of her feelings concerning the process that put her words on the page. Lottie Roberts, who manned the letterpress, had once changed “Christopher Columbus!”—Jo’s most oft-uttered oath—to “My Heavens!” and Jo had never forgiven her. This was, truthfully, not an isolated event; “Blazes!” had been mysteriously printed as “How sad!”—“Hell” as “The Down Below”—“Blow me down!” as “No!”—and “A French pox upon you, Adventuress!” had been eliminated altogether.
“Your typesetters go too far.” She glared, repeating the warning not to change a word of her text for the twentieth time.
“Yes, well.” He snapped shut his peppermint tin. “When women of polite society are allowed to speak like common sailors, you are welcome to terminate their employment yourself, Miss March.”
“And I look forward to the day, sir.” Jo pursed her lips.
“I am confident you shall meet it.” Niles smiled. For despite all indications to the contrary, the two were fond friends. Niles reminded Jo of her father, who had left Concord years earlier to join the Union army as a chaplain. Mr. March had come home only once in all that time—when the Union prevailed and the war was won, three years ago. Shortly thereafter, he’d left once more to volunteer in the Reconstruction efforts in the South, helping to build schools and churches for previously enslaved people. And though his letters usually came frequently, the March women felt his absence keenly.
But Jo still had Niles, and if they fought, they fought well, each considering the other the more harmless version of their species. (The dollar a story Niles paid to run Jo’s wild romantic adventures didn’t hurt, either. Neither did the fact that subscriptions to his circular, The Tall Taler, had gone up by forty-three since engaging her. Forty-three!)
“Call it what you will. No one will read it, anyway.” Jo tapped her fingers along the brown-paper-wrapped parcel. “I don’t know why you believed you could sell it.”
“Perhaps.” Niles nodded.
“I should have used a different name instead of my own,” she sighed. “Eustacia. Thomasina.”
“Possibly.” He nodded again. “Eustacia Emerson is lovely. I’m quite partial to Thomasina Thoreau, but Hildegarde Hawthorne could also do just fine.” He winked.
Hawthorne. That was his name, the other Athenaeum chap!
“Fine.” She picked at the string about the parcel. “Take my daft little book of scribbles and do with it as you will.”
“I’ve seen dafter. Trust me.”
“Trust you? You have no sense of anything, least of all publishing! Why, you couldn’t sell Romeo and Juliet if I wrote it for you.”
“Admittedly a bit somber for my taste—I do prefer a happy ending to my sensation stories. So do our Tall Taler readers. Why couldn’t Romeo have married Juliet and settled down in a nice Tuscan villa? A sequel by any other name . . .”
The author bit her lip; it kept her from responding in a discourteous manner.
“Now give it here,” the editor said, sliding his fingers impatiently across the blotter atop his desk and taking the manuscript from her hands.
“Take it.” She scowled.
Manuscript obtained, Niles traded his peppermints for the bottle of peppermint schnapps he kept in the bottom of his drawer for special occasions.
“A toast!” he offered, pouring two thimblefuls into two cups.
Jo grudgingly accepted.
“To our Little Women!” her publisher cried. “And to the bright future of Jo March, Thomas Niles, and Roberts Brothers! May 1868 prove to be a banner year for us all!”
Jo clinked her glass against his. It seemed rude otherwise. With a final sigh and a shake of her curls, the author drank to her defeat. The editor drank to her success.
Little Women it was.
Excerpted from Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz. Copyright © 2020 by Melissa de la Cruz and Margaret Stohl, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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