Friendships between women can last a lifetime. They can grow and strengthen through adversity, loss and love. Patricia O’Brien uses that kind of friendship to help bring Louisa May Alcott to life in her novel The Glory Cloak.
Susan Gray has always been in awe of the Alcott family. As their cousin, she has been involved in their lives as the girls grow into adulthood. Her favorite cousin is Louisa. A strong woman who finds enjoyment in duty, but also in having fun, Louisa longs to write passionate stories. Susan is the one who whispers that Louisa can do it. And so the deeper threads of friendship are sown.
Then the Civil War starts. There is a call for nurses to attend the sick in Washington, D.C. Susan and Louisa wish to live life and make some sort of difference in this horrible war. Enlisting, they head to the capital where they will meet Clara Barton and a man who will change all of their lives.
During their adventures in Washington, Susan and Louisa begin to grow and broaden their views of the world. Susan starts to find a place for herself outside the vast shadow that her older cousin casts. It is here we begin to see the woman that legend has made Louisa. We also see the fire and determination of Clara Barton. Her belief that no soldier should go unaccounted for during the war drives her to incredibly courageous acts.
This novel is a fascinating glimpse into the Alcott family. Susan Gray is an intriguing main character that helps bring some sort of understanding to the more undefined Louisa. Ms. O’Brien’s treatment of the famous author is sensitive and intriguing. There has always been a sort of mystery surrounding the Little Women author. Questions have always been asked about her. Maybe there might be some truth in the story that the characters tell.
The Glory Cloak is a wonderful look into two strong women’s friendship that matures and changes over the years, but at its core, there has always been and will always be love.