Author: Geraldine Brooks
Published: January 2006 by Penguin Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Synopsis: Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction. From the author of the acclaimed YEAR OF WONDERS, an historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe, on the front lines of the American Civil War.
Acclaimed author Geraldine Brooks gives us the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women - and conjures a world of brutality, stubborn courage and transcendent love. An idealistic abolitionist, March has gone as chaplain to serve the Union cause. But the war tests his faith not only in the Union - which is also capable of barbarism and racism - but in himself. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness, March must reassemble and reconnect with his family, who have no idea of what he has endured.
A love story set in a time of catastrophe, March explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief
So this is basically Little Women month here at My Thoughts Literally. It was supposed to be retellings but I've read more books about Little Women than retellings. One could argue that this is a retelling but it's more a companion novel. March is a look into the life and history of a character in Little Women who didn't receive much attention, Mr. March.
I've previously read a different work by the author, Geraldine Brooks, and I really enjoyed the story she was able to create by blending fact and fiction. In the case of March that was no different. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical and draws you into the struggle of the characters and their experience in a difficult time. In the case of March I didn't quite get the sense of wonder that I had in People of the Book but I was able to immerse myself in a beautiful and thought-provoking story steeped in history. Like Little Women, it is philosophical without being to preachy. It handles some difficult concepts with care and makes you question a lot of different things.
In addition to the elements of Lit Fic, Brooks also balances the book with elements of Historical Fiction. Like all good books in the genre, it was well-researched and balances the imaginary with actual moments and figures of history. And one of those historical figures is Bronson Alcott, Louisa May's father, who the original character was based on. The Alcotts ran with a circle of transcendental reformers, writers, and philosophers in Concord and this is the circle that the Marches interacted with in the book. People like Thoreau, Emerson, and even John Brown made an appearance and helped created the world and historical context for the book. But it's essentially a book about the Civil War and it incorporates many elements of the culture and history of the time.
March is a definite read for fans of Little Women. It gives us a more gritty look at the historical time period and the characters of that beloved Classic. Geraldine Brooks has managed to write a beautiful and interesting story that balances the history and well-loved characters with a plot that makes you think.
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. Fans of Little Women should add this book to their collection as should fans of Literary Fiction. This book has won the Pulitzer Prize, and award that I usually have good luck with when it comes to Lit Fic so if you are like me then check it out.