"Brilliant...Geraldine Brooks' new novel, March, is a very great book.... Brooks has magnificently wielded the novelist's license." (Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune)
"A beautifully wrought story.... Gripping.... A taut plot, vivid characters and provocative issues." (Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times Book Review)
"Honorable, elegant and true." (John Freeman, The Wall Street Journal)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize - a powerful love story set against the backdrop of the Civil War, from the author of The Secret Chord.
From Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story "filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man" (Sue Monk Kidd). With "pitch-perfect writing" (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks' place as a renowned author of historical fiction.
Great book, greatly narrated
Wow! What a terrific book this is!
As you probably know, this is Geraldine Brooks' imagining of the father's year away from his "Little Women", and what a complete, compelling, thought- provoking imagining it is. Brooks has based the character of March largely on Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa May and one of the great intellectuals of 19th century Transcendentalism. As we travel with March through his Civil War experience, we also experience his reminiscences of his courtship of Marmee (she is wonderfully imagined also, much more fully than the rather one-dimensional saintly mother of the Little Women), the rich intellectual life of the Concord of Emerson & Thoreau, and his heroic wrestling with issues of war, morality, race, faith, and family.
I chose this selection because I've also been reading the Transcendentalists, and found it to be a wonderful piece of storytelling.
The narration, by Richard Easton, is first rate as well. Movie buffs may recognize Easton's name and voice, notably from Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" and "Dead Again". Easton's diction is beautiful, characterizations and dialects vivid.
- D. Littman
Geraldine Brooks extends the reach of the American classic, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, by following one of its invisible characters, John March, the girls’ father, through a slice of the Civil War. This book, based on thorough research into the economics & culture of the period, also features flashbacks to embryonic capitalism, the slave economy & the abolition movement of the 1840s & 1850s. Brooks accurately portrays the sometimes crackpot, fringe nature of northern abolitionism before the war, as well as its tinge of racism, in a way that could help educate the often ahistorical views of the movement in contemporary texts. John March, as a character, is able to grow by experience. He moves from an eccentric, idealistic & sometimes irritating character, to a sympathetic yet battle-hardened individual by the end of the book. The outstanding prose & plot development of the book allows the open-minded reader to grow as John March grows. As an added bonus, Brooks provides an author’s note at the end of the book, and of the audiobook, that discusses her sources & methods of translating primary materials of the time into the fabric of the novel.
Based on previous mixed reviews, I was not overly excited to download this book but it was this month's pick for my bookclub so the decision was made. I was very glad it was chosen, it would have been a shame if I had passed on this. One of my favorite reads was Brooks' "A Year of Wonders" and I think this was even better. The story and writing style were superb. The narrator was easy to listen to...a very appropriate voice for the characters. I was always excited to get back to listen as the story moved forward (not always the case for all audio books). I am now looking forward to our next bookclub meeting because the book will most definitely stimulate a lot of conversation about who we are behind closed doors, how we shape conversation to protect ourselves and others, as well as the dynamics of our true beliefs. I highly recommend.
So Much to Consider
This well-written story brought up so much to think about. I had never heard of contraband in this context and learned much about the treatment of slaves in the transitional period of the first part of the Civil War. The author's background as a war correspondent is very evident in the very bloody descriptions of the battles and the atrocities committed during raids.
Very strong women were prominent in this story about an idealistic and very naive man. Each of them has to deal with the consequences of his impetuous actions. It is interesting that this is exactly the tendency that he is continually trying to squelch in his wife.
This sequel also kept very true to the original book in its treatment of the characters.
- Debbie Ann
Maybe should have read this one
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
I would not. The character development and the storyline was just not deep enough for me. It was a book that I hoped would be over soon.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
It was kind of abrupt. I do wish that I had a little insight into what happened in the long run, but I had had it by the end of the story by that point so I didn't much care.
Would you be willing to try another one of Richard Easton’s performances?
I don't think so. He kind of ruined the book for me. I found myself wondering if I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the story
Any additional comments?
I was a lover of Little Women, and usually really enjoy historical fiction. I did like the backdrop of this story, ie abolition and the Civil War, and it helped me develop more empathy with people who lived and suffered in the late 1800s. I appreciate the research which went into the book, and I was happy that the book was an accurate representation of the times. However, I feel that there was really not much narrative to this story; I most enjoyed the parts in which Rev March's relationships (with Grace, or Mr. Canning) were described, but these moments were rare compared to Rev. March's preachy soliloquies. My annoyance was only heightened by Richard Easton's performance, who made the character sound overbearing, pompous, and generally insufferable. I didn't much like him. The story picked up when Marmie came on the scene for Part 2, and it almost led me to give the book 4 stars rather than 3.
The Narrator Made This Book
I loved this story. Read it with my book group and we were all in agreement. It takes place during the same year as the first part of Little Women. Mr. March, and idealistic preacher, has enlisted in the Union to try and bolster the men's morale. It isn't long before they begin to resent his platitudes and he gets shuffled off to act as a teacher to "contraband", freed slaves still in danger of being taken back into slavery. Soon he begins to lose a grasp of his idealist dreams as the reality of the slaves' situation begins to unravel.
Brooks has done an excellent job showing these characters from an adult point of view rather than that of a child looking at her parents as Alcott had created them. I also enjoy the way we see Mr. March's point of view and then Marmee's view of the same part of the story.
The narrator was excellent and was very believable as both Mr. March and Marmee.
An interesting story
What an amazing story, to think it was written by an Aussie that read "Little Women" when she was ten years old. To think she would go into libraries and other places of letters in Virginia and Massachusetts to do the research that she weaved into this tale. I originally thought this would be a book about the Civil War. In the end it simply about human nature set in the timeframe of the Civil War. Ms. Brooks is a great writer!
- Jayne Kraemer
Little Women Remix?
Geraldine Brooks takes the character of the March family patriarch, Papa March, from Little Women and remakes both him and his beloved Marmie in her own image. I suppose that's the beauty and power of writing -- we can all become a little godlike. Unfortunately Brooks' remix takes two sweet and noble characters from a timeless novel and drags them through the mire until they are barely recognizable. I found that disturbing and disconcerting. On the other hand, the story that Brooks tells was engaging enough to keep me listening to the end. The story stands strongly enough on its own -- it doesn't need the gimmick of recreating a well known and well loved children's classic to get our attention. I wish Brooks had realized that. I think it would have made a more powerful novel.
- Anonymous User
No Alcott Here
Sequels usually fall short in comparison to the original. “March” is no exception. In an attempt to use Alcott’s “Little Women” as a background for this story of the “missing father”, the author has drawn heavily from the characters of the original but has created a new character, Chaplain March, who is best characterized as a “victim”. In his own words he realizes he is an idealist who was not able to deal with the horrors of war and his inaction leads to suffering and death of several characters in the book. His commanding officer, who fired March, was correct in describing this character as one who “no one liked and caused only conflict” in his command. Chaplain March is involved in continual self analysis that becomes burdensome, if not boring.
On the other hand, the book was highly acclaimed by many critics. It is well researched and provides a detailed description of medical service during the Civil War. The author attempts to carry the literary style of Alcott but, as with the sequel to “Gone With the Wind”, it is simply overpowered by the grace and scope of the original. No more sequels of great novels for me.
- Miranda Lennox
Can't believe I spent money n low-grade fanfiction
Oof, what a mess. Not only was this book uninspired, it was also offensive. Before I even checked, I knew it was written by a middle-aged white woman based on this particular brand of fetishizing drivel. The only "human" characters are the white men; all the women and Black folks are just props to drive home the drama. The sex scenes and torture scenes are nearly indistinguishable and both quite nauseating.
The only bright sides were the decent pacing and authentic-feeling narration (though I'm not sure there's any excuse for the n-word to be used by the people who profit from this book.)
This story is basically the unholy progeny of white guilt and white savior complex. Save your money and buy something by Zora Neale Hurston
- Catherine Smith
Historical Fiction @ it’s Finest
Love Little Women? This novel about Mr March and his experiences is not to be missed.