Monday, 13 February 2012

Brooks, Geraldine "March"

Brooks, Geraldine "March. A Love Story in a Time of War" - 2006

Who hasn't read "Little Women” and wouldn't mind reading more about the March family. Well, here's your chance.

I am not a big fan of any "sequels" written by other people than the author him/herself, especially not decades or even centuries later. However, Geraldine Brooks is an exception, she writes her novels more like biographies. As in this case. The protagonist of her story is John March, the father of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, Marmee's beloved husband. A lot of his work is told in the background in "Little Women", here we can see the man himself, his ideals, his politics, he was an abolitionist as well as an advocate for women's rights, a dreamer of a better world. As Louisa May Alcott has really told the story of her family, this is the story of her father, Amos Bronson Alcott. He was quite a remarkable man, way ahead of his time and his story is worth reading.

From the back cover:
"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.

From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic
Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, March, who has gone off to war, leaving his wife and daughters to make do in mean times. To evoke him, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father - a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In her telling, March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.

Spanning the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South,
March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale to portray the moral complexity of war, and a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism - and by a dangerous and illicit attraction. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as an internationally renowned author of historical fiction."

Geraldine Brooks received the Pulitzer Prize for "March" in 2006.


  1. I've always liked "Little Women" - the only disturbing point is in my eyes Alcott's treatment of the Civil War. It's treated as a simple opportunity to show Yankee patriotism and sense of duty - there's no allusion to the war cruelties nor to the inner conflicts within the Yankee States (the "copperheads", the anti-draft riots etc.).

    1. I totally agree about that but I guess American readers and especially LM Alcott's contemporaries had a different opinion about it.

      It still is a great story about a family that lived at the time and was happy to read this book about the March family that shows a lot more.