Only Gossip Prospers: A Novel of Louisa May Alcott in New York

Written by Lorraine Tosiello
Review by Jodie Toohey

Following the success of her novel Little Women, Louisa May Alcott took an extended trip to New York City. Only Gossip Prospers presents a story exploring why she may have gone, how she may have spent her time, the relationships she could have formed, and why she left abruptly. In the novel, Louisa wants to maintain her anonymity to promote the peace and healing for which she made the trip. She finds her own secret slowly revealed as she learns that many in her midst are also not who they purport to be. A cloud hangs over Louisa during this trip, but though the author hints at a seedy past or some scandal, it’s never fully revealed.

Only Gossip Prospers is written well and easy to follow but does contain a noticeable number of typos. If this were simply a novel, and if Louisa May Alcott were not a real person who had done the things and met the people the author verified through her research, I might say the story lacked plot and the want, obstacles, and satisfying ending of a good story. However, this is more a slice of a life, a narrative of a period in a real person’s life hinted at though bits and pieces of evidence. So, in that way, I found it interesting and entertaining. More enthusiastic fans of Louisa May Alcott will enjoy Only Gossip Prospers even more than I did.