Illinois Authors

The Illinois Center for the Book banner

Kelly O'Connor McNees

Born: in Michigan
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: McNees lives in Chicago.

Biography: Kelly O'Connor McNees is the author of two novels, 'The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott' and 'In Need of a Good Wife.' Born and raised in Michigan, Kelly found that books made good friends. Mary Lennox, Winnie Foster, Kit Tyler, Will Stanton, and a dozen other characters were as real to her as any of the kids on her block, and she decided that the best way to keep them around and provide them with some company was to become a writer herself. Kelly received her first rejection letter in tenth grade, from the fiction editor at 'Seventeen,' and has been writing her way back ever since. In the meantime, she has worked as a teacher and editor, and lives with her husband and daughter in Chicago.

  • "In Need of a Good Wife"
  • -- Finalist, Willa Award
  • "Undiscovered Country"
  • -- Starred Review, Library Journal

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

In need of a good wife /
ISBN: 0425257924 OCLC: 775417893

Berkley Books, New York : 2012.

"For Clara Bixby, brokering mail-order brides is a golden business opportunity--and a desperately needed chance to start again. If she can help New York women find husbands in a far-off Nebraska town, she can build an independent new life away from her own loss and grief. Clara's ambitions are shared by two other women, who are also willing to take any risk. Quiet immigrant Elsa hopes to escape her life of servitude and at last shape her own destiny. And Rowena, the willful, impoverished heiress, jumps at the chance to marry a humble stranger and repay a heartbreaking debt. All three struggle to find their true place in the world, leaving behind who they were in order to lay claim to the person they want to be. Along the way, each must face unexpected obstacles and dangerous choices, but they also help to forge a nation unlike any that came before."--

The island of doves /
ISBN: 0425264580 OCLC: 822532834

"The story of two women in early nineteenth century America--one typical of her time, one extraordinary for it--who transform each other's lives."--Publisher.

The lost summer of Louisa May Alcott /
ISBN: 0425240835 OCLC: 668228147

Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York : ©2010.

The beloved author begins a love affair that would threaten her writing career--and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in "Little Women."

Undiscovered country :
ISBN: 1681776790 OCLC: 1027787567

"In 1932, New York City, top reporter Lorena "Hick" Hickok starts each day with a front page byline--and finishes it swigging bourbon and planning her next big scoop. But an assignment to cover FDR's campaign--and write a feature on his wife, Eleanor--turns Hick's hard-won independent life on its ear. Soon her work, and the secret entanglement with the new first lady, will take her from New York and Washington to Scotts Run, West Virginia, where impoverished coal miners' families wait in fear that the New Deal's promised hope will pass them by. Together, Eleanor and Hick imagine how the new town of Arthurdale could change the fate of hundreds of lives. But doing what is right does not come cheap, and Hick will pay in ways she never could have imagined. Undiscovered Country artfully mixes fact and fiction to portray the intense relationship between this unlikely pair. Inspired by the historical record, including the more than three thousand letters Hick and Eleanor exchanged over a span of thirty years, McNees tells this story through Hick's tough, tender, and unforgettable voice. A remarkable portrait of Depression-era America, this novel tells the poignant story of how a love that was forced to remain hidden nevertheless changed history"--Dust jacket.