Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: March (Geraldine Brooks)

Geraldine Brooks continues to amaze me: Year of Wonders, People of the Book, and now March. I am so happy that I have her newest, Caleb's Crossing, to look forward to.

I must admit I wasn't terribly enthused about the idea of March. I knew that the story was about Mr. March, father of Little Women's Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth. Somehow that just didn't excite me, perhaps because I was a huge Little Women fan as a girl. But March jumped out at me on my last library visit, so I grabbed it.

I loved it. Recently I reviewed Chris Bohjalian's The Double Bind, which I really liked largely because he wove a contemporary story in with the fictional The Great Gatsby, treating the characters in Gatsby as if they had actually lived. Although March isn't a contemporary story, Brooks uses the same device of expanding on a famous novel by giving marginal characters new life in their own story.

I haven't read Little Women in its entirety in probably 30 years, although I have read an abridged version and watched both the movie and a play in the past five years or so. But I read it multiple times as a tween/teen, and the story is quite vivid for me. But Mr. March was always a shadowy character, the father-at-war.

In March, we read his side of the story: the ugliness of war, the devastation, horror, and degradation he faces, all while putting on a pretty face in his letters back home. We also hear about his youth and courtship with Mrs. March, which includes some wonderful scenes with Emerson and Thoreau. These scenes are based on the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May's father, and brilliantly done.

Who is the real Mr. March? A devout minister, a coward, an adulterer, a doting father? Ultimately he is not the man his wife or daughters think he is, but he's also not the man he thinks he is.

There's a reason Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer for March. Highly recommended, even if you've never read Little Women. But you'll probably want to when you finish.

Other Bloggers Review March
Scrappy Cat
Fat Books and Thin Women
One Librarian's Book Reviews
The Blue Bookcase


Teresa said...

I've got this one on my radar as it is our community read this year. I'm really looking forward to it.

Karyn Hinz said...

I'm sure I've mentioned to you before that I also loved March. I started it with the same feelings as you mentioned, as I also read and re-read Little Women many times as a teen.

I am also waiting eagerly for Caleb's Crossing.

I really enjoyed her non-fiction books too: Foreign Correspondence (where she tracks down her childhood pen pals) and Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. Geraldine Brooks is definitely one of my favorite authors. I always love finding someone else who loves her writing,too.

Anna said...

This sounds good, but I've never read Little Women. I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations.

Carin Siegfried said...

Believe it or not I was at the Alcott house the week the Pulitzer was announced (they were one of my accounts for work). They were too busy to actually meet with me for my appointment so I hung out in the gift shop for an hour. I have March as well as Caleb and Wonders. I am looking forward to many more Brooks books this year! But I don't read books from the same author back-to-back because in the past when I've done that I get them all confused.

IngridLola said...

thanks for the link! glad you liked it too :)

Anonymous said...

I loved loved loved this book. It was the first one of hers I'd read. Time for Caleb's Crossing and the nonfiction now.

Sherry said...

I've had this one on my TBR list forever. Maybe it's time I got around to it.

Bookscount Blogs said...

I loved this novel also. It is one that I think I will be reading over and over.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

How have I never heard if this? I shall add it to my list!

Luxembourg said...

This is not entirely a love story, not at all! But it is a story of war, and why people fight them; the freedom of that child who no longer has a mother to fight for him. Geraldine gives this child a true voice not educated in proper grammar; he is not allowed to learn it as a slave. She describes pain even in happy moments, the forbidden love, or ambition Mr. March has to educate those who are not lucky enough to know their ABC's, or perhaps are not allowed to know them. Mr. March did profoundly love his wife a conductor of the Underground Railroad and his love for her is no doubt a part of his ambition to go on this dreadful journey.
March by Geraldine Brooks is both a heart wrenching and inspiring story, it depicts Mr. March constantly surrounded by death or suffering "For as soon as a man lets his eye drop from the heavens to the horizon, he risks setting it on some scene of desolation." However Mr. March appears strong, though humanly so, he does not cease to inspire.

Anonymous said...

She won an award for this? Are you seriuos? They give awards for anything I guess. Not a very good book in my opinion. But that's why we are all differnt. If I had to grade it, maybe a c- at best.