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March by Geraldine Brooks

March (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Geraldine Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,882209946 (3.77)498
Authors:Geraldine Brooks (Author)
Info:Pymble, N.S.W. : Fourth Estate, 2005.
Collections:Your library, Read 2012
Tags:adult fiction, female author, Australian author, American Civil War

Work details

March by Geraldine Brooks (2005)

  1. 101
    Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (infiniteletters, kiwiflowa, Booksloth)
  2. 21
    Property by Valerie Martin (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Another award winning work that sheds light on the full horror of the results of slavery.
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    Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1Owlette)
  4. 00
    American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever (bibliothequaire)
    bibliothequaire: Gives an historical account of the life of Bronson Alcott (who was Brooks' inspiration for Mr. March) and the transcendentalist community in Concord.
  5. 11
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  6. 12
    In The fall by Jeffrey Lent (1Owlette)
  7. 13
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Anonymous user)
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Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
March (never with a given name), husband of Marmee (a nickname), father of four daughters, approaching age 40, is a chaplain in the Union Army. After a harrowing skirmish in Virginia, the unit arrives at a deteriorating plantation, and March realizes that he was here some 20 years ago. Thus begins a series of alternating chapters, March immersed in the Civil War, March meeting and marrying Marmee in Massachusetts (lots of Ms...); the reverse and the backstory of Little Women. The stories link when Marmee is summoned to Washington DC where March is hospitalized, and her voice emerges as he lies deathly ill and delirious.

I got seriously annoyed with the author in chapter 2. March, age 19, is a roaming peddler of trinkets and toys. He arrives at the plantation, where the owner waves off the items for sale, but wants to see the books that March has been collecting. The two men bond intellectually, and March is attracted to the extensive library and the life of leisure with ample time to think. The owner invites March to stay, and offers a temporarily vacant cottage. The underbelly surfaces when March reads to the cook’s daughter and casually begins teaching the alphabet. This was a perfectly sufficient scenario to portray his naivete, his idealism, his disillusionment. The author, though, inserts Grace. (Hmm, where should I place the spoiler marker?) Grace is a slave who was (for reasons later explained) singled out for education, before teaching a slave to read became illegal. She catches March in the act and is horrified, but then she asks him to continue teaching the child in secret. WTF? First, she is perfectly capable of teaching the child herself and her rationale for enlisting March is lame. Second, why would she entrust this dangerous surreptitious activity to a stranger who has already demonstrated that he has little concept of how the world works. Of course he is discovered. Of course she is punished. Grace appears again at crucial junctures, a plot device rather than a person.

But forget Grace. This is a novel based on research, and the author gets the tone and the atmosphere right. The models for March are Bronson Alcott (resident of Concord MA, father of Louisa May, friend of Emerson and Thoreau) and Arthur Fuller (chaplain in the Union Army, brother of Margaret, grandfather of Buckminster). March is a fundamentally decent man, whose track record of translating ideals into action is spotty, whose tendency to self-righteousness (with a mission to tame his wife) is not altogether endearing. March is the reason to read this book.
  qebo | Jan 18, 2015 |
This is the story of Mr. March, the absent father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, when he volunteered as a minister in the Civil War. The storyline was OK, as I do like reading about this era, but I didn't like the style of writing. It was confusing at times, going back and forth in time, and reminded me too much of Little Women, which I tried several times to read but found difficult to get through. I think I forced myself to finally finish LW, but wasn't much impressed, as is the case with March. ( )
  cindyb29 | Jan 13, 2015 |
Read from August 11 to December 31, 2014

I kept telling myself I'd come back to this one -- it's so short, it would take no time at all to finish it up. But no. I started this in August and it's been sitting on my bookshelf unopened since the end of August. The few pages I read (89) were enough to tell me that my brain just can't handle the heaviness of this one. I'm pretty sure I knew that in August when I was many weeks pregnant and I definitely know it know that I'm home with an infant. I'll come back to it though...one day.
  melissarochelle | Jan 1, 2015 |
Based on Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks brings us a parallel account of Peter March, the father of Meg, Jo Beth and Amy. Most of the story of Little Women has their father as absent while off to war. This fills in the blanks as to his whereabouts and adds a bit more depth to one of my favorite classics.

Its pre-Civil War and Peter March is an honorable man with idealistic views. The story begins with him just out of the seminary and a traveling salesman marketing his trade in the south. He witnesses slave life and racism on the great plantations. He then decides to join the abolitionist movement when he meets his future wife Margaret aka Marmee. They share noble views along with their friends, famous authors Emerson and Thoreau which are considered quite forward of their era.

I thought this was an interesting account of historical fiction told in the perspective of March and then Marmee. Although some liberties might have been taken to embellish the story I though it was worth the read.

How I acquired this book: Used book sale at the Walnut Creek Library
Shelf life: Approximately one year ( )
  missjomarch | Dec 31, 2014 |
Her writing is exquisite ( )
  scullybert | Aug 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
Brooks is capable of strong writing about the natural world and nicely researched effects about the human one (on the eve of a battle, March sees ''the surgeon flinging down sawdust to receive the blood that was yet to flow''), but the book she has produced makes a distressing contribution to recent trends in historical fiction, which, after a decade or so of increased literary and intellectual weight, seems to be returning to its old sentimental contrivances and costumes.
Fascinating insight, don’t read if you’re a Little Women purist.
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For Dorleen and Cassie -

By no means little women.
First words
October 21, 1861 This is what I write to her: the clouds tonight embossed the sky.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark, first year of the war, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143036661, Paperback)

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’s place as a renowned author of historical fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:25 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

From Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, March, and has added adult resonance to portray the moral complexity of war and a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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