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March by Geraldine Brooks
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March (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Geraldine Brooks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,907212936 (3.77)501
Member:Chris-86
Title:March
Authors:Geraldine Brooks (Author)
Info:Pymble, N.S.W. : Fourth Estate, 2005.
Collections:Your library, Read 2012
Rating:****1/2
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. 64
    Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1Owlette)
  3. 21
    Property by Valerie Martin (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Another award winning work that sheds light on the full horror of the results of slavery.
  4. 11
    The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks (bnbookgirl)
  5. 00
    Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Classic stories (Little Women/Jane Eyre) re-imagined through the experiences of characters who are important to the plot while being almost entirely unseen.
  6. 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.
  7. 12
    In The fall by Jeffrey Lent (1Owlette)
  8. 13
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Anonymous user)
  9. 03
    Redemption Falls by Joseph O'Connor (1Owlette)
  10. 03
    Hester: The Missing Years of the Scarlet Letter by Paula Reed (KatyBee)
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Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
This is the story of the father of the "little women" of Louisa Mae Alcott's story of the same name. Mr. March is a chaplain in the Union Army during the Civil War. In flashbacks, the reader learns how he met and married Marmee and about the birth of his four daughters. We also learn about his work as an abolitionist prior to the war and the reason his family is so poor. It has been a long time since I read Little Women, so I am not sure any of this is in that novel.(Was the March home a stop on the Underground Railroad?)
The main story line of this novel centers on March's time in the Union Army, the horrors of the war that he witnesses, and the moral and ethical challenges he experiences as a result of that conflict. Without giving any spoilers, I will say that the contrast between the letters he writes to his wife and daughters, and the reality of his experiences is an important part of the story. Those who enjoy historical fiction will appreciate the setting of this novel and may gain a different understanding of the Civil War. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
(Reseña un poco más completa en La Loca de los Libros.)

ACLARACIÓN: lo que a continuación he escrito, no es una reseña, sino un desvarío lleno de sentimientos encontrados. Todavía no estoy segura de que me haya gustado esta novela. No sé si una novela que te angustia a la vez que te produce ganas locas de querer saber que hay más allá, pueda calificarse como un éxito o una pasión inconclusa--insatisfecha.

Fue difícil leer sobre March desde su propio punto de vista. Me sentí incómoda, triste, furiosa, indignada... y de nuevo, triste.

Antes que nada, saben quién es March, ¿no?



¡El papá de Meg, Jo, Beth y Amy! ¡El marido de Marmee! ¡El suegro de Laurie, John Brooke y el Profesor Bhaer! ¡El abuelo de Daisy y Demi; de Rob y Teddy; de BESS! Ya saben, ese tipo. Y bueno, pues aquí lo tienen ahora. A ése CON HISTORIA PROPIA.

Desde que leí Mujercitas por primera vez, cuando tenía once años, que siento a las hermanas March como si fuesen mis propias hermanas: todo aquello que gire en torno a ellas, o que tenga algo que ver con su mundo de antaño, sus voces, sus juegos, la familia y las historias; todo lo remotamente Marcheano me provoca un arranque de ternura teñido de nostalgia casi instintivo. Por ello, tenía que leer esta novela.

OK.

Hay cosas que odié pero que tienen que ver con mi aversión absoluta hacia ciertas infidelidades que te toman por sorpresa, y cierta caracterizaciones exageradas Y cosas que amé ( el estilo de escritura, la personalidad guerrera de March, las breves apariciones de las hermanas March; ciertas escenas sobre Marmee y su forma de ser tan igual a JO; descripciones, escenarios; todo lo técnico, en fin, me pareció impecable.

Aún así, a pesar de que es una novela muy buena, no llegué a disfrutarla--y esto lo digo en el sentido de que no es MUJERCITAS, obvio. No te deja con una sonrisa en la cara. Es todo lo asquerosamente realista que el libro de Alcott se cuidaba en no ser (al menos, no demasiado).

Ahora bien, me gustaría decir que muchas de las acciones del protagonista no son acordes al March que imaginara Alcott, pero si lo hiciera estaría errada, ya que no sabemos realmente qué pensaba la autora de Mujecitas sobre su patriarca March. Recordemos que es un personaje secundario en la novela: sabemos poco y nada sobre él, así que, en ese caso, por más que me encantaría indignarme y patotear al son de Imposible que March decidiera hacer eso!! (Y Cito, para que se hagan una idea a lo que me refiero: "But what greater punishment would it be if whispers of my momentary weakness should come to the ears of my dear wife, or scandal touch my daughters in their youthful innocence?". Varias veces he leído ya en esta clase de retellings (fanfiction pero más "elegante"), de autores que, vaya a saber porqué, deciden ir por este camino para; es decir, elegir esta clase de "debilidades" o "defectos" en el afán de quererlos hacer más "humanos" o no tan ideales como algunba vez se los imaginara originalmente.

Me acuerdo de haber leído un retelling de Orgullo y Prejuicio donde Bingley (YA casado con Jane) optaba por meterle los cuernos con una esclava! HORROR!! En este caso, es algo similar; per con la gran diferencia de que está muy bien escrito, muy bien explicado y en un contexto de igualdad entre los dos involucrados. Esa es, creo yo, la grandeza que mantiene el personaje de March, es un idealista en palabra y en hecho, no descansa nunca, sufre por lo perdido, por la injusticia, por todos aquellos por los que nadie llora; pero no lo hace desde la condescendencia ni la pena, sino desde la lucha y el deseo de contribuir a la libertad. O sea, este no es un boludo cualquiera que derrama lágrimas pero no hace nada.
Este March, más allá de lo "humano" que la autora lo pinta, es un luchador, igual que el padre ausente de Meg, Jo, Beth y Amy. Y a pesar de que lo prefiero en la luz santificadora de la pluma original, este hombre es mucho más real e igual de conmovedor. Por ello, la novela no llegó a decepcionarme del todo. Me gustó el protagonista al mismo tiempo que me desagradaron muchas de sus decisiones.

En fin, a pesar de algunos malos tragos, amé leer sobre los inicios de la relación entre Robert y Marmee; sobre las similitudes entre esta última y Jo (ese "carácter podrido" de ambas, sin miedo a nada (aunque, llegando al final, cuando la trama cambia al punto de vista de Marmee, ciertas actitudes o revelaciones fueron algo decepcionantes o terminaron por angustiarme más de lo que ya estaba); sobre John Brooke llevando la señora March a ya saben donde si leyeron Mujecitas; cierta escena que tiene como gran protagonista a BETH---porque,¿lo dije ya? amo a BETH, también. Las amo a todas en realidad, y no puedo explicarles la alegría/tristeza inmensa que me provoca el leer más sobre ellas, sea el libro bueno o malo.

Este, si bien me dejó bastante deprimida (el final fue bastante desagradable para mí), resultó ser una novela excepcional, la disfrutase o no; y la recomiendo para cualquier fan de Mujercitas y , porqué no, para cualquiera que quiera leer un buen libro sobre la guerra civil estadounidense. ( )
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
As I read March, I repeatedly wondered why I wasn't enjoying this novel more. Initially, I thought my lack of adoration was the result of historical-fiction burnout. March feels and sounds like so many other novels I've read. And this may have been part of my disinterest. But I think a larger part of my feeling (or lack of feeling) rests in a different comparison.

March offers another perspective of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, that of the father. I've had a good record with novels that take minor characters and make a full story from them: Ahab's Wife is one of my favorites. That said, I thought I'd really like a Civil War tale about the March father. But Mr. March never really separates himself from his little women. His continual reminders leave a link I could not shake; I never felt like it was his story. As such, it was impossible not to compare.

March is written extraordinarily well. The structure and language are both great assets. As far as craft, March is a step above its predecessor. But the endearing beauty and magic of Little Women isn't here. It isn't supposed to be, as this is the tale of a father who suffers much. It is the story of a man who endures a year of horror and grit knowing radiance awaits him at home. It's a great contrast to Little Women, which I believe is the intent, but the comparisons make this novel drag in the mud behind the names Meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo. It was during the scenes with these four girls that Mr. March seemed the most real to me. Though we have only a glimpse of Mr. March in Little Women, it seems that the actions of March's protagonist are uncharacteristic, as are some of the actions and thoughts of Marmee, his wife.

This novel doesn't feel so much like another chapter in Alcott story as it does a complete reworking. Only in the final chapters did March evoke the real warmth of its inspiration. A most fitting end to an otherwise unequal novel. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jun 2, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (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.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:15 -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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