Skip to content


October 25, 2006

march.jpgMarch was one of the books I picked up at the National Book Festival last month. I actually did so on the recommendation of my mother-in-law and once again I really loved her suggestion. Geraldine Brooks was at the festival and now having read her book after the fact, I’m very sorry that I didn’t hear her speak. I am also planning on ordering one of her other books, Year of Wonders, published in 2001. I guess that clues you into the fact that I loved Brooks’ style of writing and the story she tells in March.

This historical novel tells the story of Mr. March, the father we never really get to know in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I thought that this was a nicely original idea and Brooks carries it out well throughout the novel. I am sad to admit that I have never actually read Little Women and when I think of the story what first comes to mind is the movie version released several years ago staring Susan Sarrandon. This is the image of Marmee I carried with me throughout the novel. Even having never read Little Women, I can’t imagine that Alcott would be displeased with March in any way. It was both a lovely and powerful story.

The story is a narrative, told mostly in March’s voice. This changes only once when we get to hear from Marmee during one of the last chapters in the book. Mr. March has gone off to join the North during the Civil War, acting as a regiment chaplin. We take the journey with him as he comes to know the horrific reality of war and slavery. It’s not even as though Mr. March had any delusions that either of these things were anything less than awful, but he simply had no idea what it would mean to experience them for himself. What he did have delusions about was the idealistic banner under which he believed the North was going to war under…ending slavery. As staunch abolitionists, the entire March family participates in the underground railroad, providing safe refuge for runaway slaves. When March encounters heart-breaking bigotry and cruel treatment of the slaves by the North’s soldiers he is horribly disillusioned. Disillusionment is a big theme of this story. Disillusionment in regard to our own beliefs about who we are, the way we live our lives, and the relationships we have.

The novel also tells the love story between March and Marmee. March writes letters home to his wife and daughters, doing his best to dispel the horror of what he is witnessing. He wants to spare them the reality of his situation. A very interesting twist to the story is the relationship March shares with a slave woman, Grace, he first met as a traveling salesman…long before he meets meets Marmee. He stumbles upon Grace again during the war and remembers all of the things that drew him to her in the first place.

Brooks’ writing is fluid and graceful. I was immediately seduced by the story and drawn into the life of Mr. March. The depictions of slavery are truly some of the most heart wrenching I have ever read. Although the story itself is fiction, you just know that the scenes portrayed of mothers being seperated from their children at the slave market did indeed take place. Brooks also does a good job delving into the relationships of the characters of her book and portraying them in a realistic way. Mr. March is a flawed character, but one that you can definitely feel for. All in all, March will probably rank as one of my favorite reads of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed it!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2006 3:04 am

    I love her writing style; Year of Wonders was an amazing book about a village during the plague; she stumbled across it while she was in England and fictionalised the events at the time. I have heard her speak; she is a passionate and educated woman and if i recall correctly she has travelled to Middle Eastern countries and written about the women there. It’s been a while!
    Get that book – it’s unputdownable!

  2. October 27, 2006 7:35 am

    To be honest Maureen I haven’t been all that interested in March since seeing it in bookstores. Having just read Little Women though, and reading your review, I may have to rethink it! Thanks.

  3. October 30, 2006 8:25 pm

    I am very interested in reading along with you all – I am just confused as to what is being read right now and discussed?????? Can you fill me in and I’ll get going if I may – thanks!!


  4. November 1, 2006 12:42 am

    I loved March and am looking forward to reading Year of Wonders. I’m envious, but happy for you, that you were able to attend the National Book Festival. Would love to hear about the authors you did hear.

  5. ARIEL permalink
    November 19, 2006 10:04 am

    I just read March on your recommendation while waiting for the next book pick. Thanks, I really liked it.

  6. Laura permalink
    November 20, 2006 2:36 pm

    Does anyone who read the book know Mr. March’s first name? My daughter is doing an adaptation of the play of Little Women and they need to know, but are having trouble finding it.

  7. November 20, 2006 10:23 pm

    Good question Laura. I don’t actually know. Maureen, did they mention his first name in the book?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: