March: A Love Story in a Time of War

March: A Love Story in a Time of War

Book rating: 05 Paperback Harper Perennial

By (author) Geraldine Brooks

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  • Publisher: HarperPerennial
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 127mm x 191mm x 23mm | 204g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2006
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0007165870
  • ISBN 13: 9780007165872
  • Sales rank: 3,453

Product description

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Richard and Judy pick. From the author of the acclaimed 'Year of Wonders' and 'People of the Book', a historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe on the front lines of the American Civil War. Set during the American Civil War, 'March' tells the story of John March, known to us as the father away from his family of girls in 'Little Women', Louisa May Alcott's classic American novel. In Brooks's telling, March emerges as an abolitionist and idealistic chaplain on the front lines of a war that tests his faith in himself and in the Union cause when he learns that his side, too, is capable of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness in a Washington hospital, he must reassemble the shards of 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. As Alcott drew on her real-life sisters in shaping the characters of her little women, so Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May's father, an idealistic educator, animal rights exponent and abolitionist who was a friend and confidante of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The story spans the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, through to the first year of the Civil War as the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats. Like her bestselling 'Year of Wonders', 'March' follows an unconventional love story. It 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.

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Author information

Geraldine Brooks was born and raised in Australia. After moving to the USA she worked for eleven years on the Wall Street Journal, covering stories from some of the world's most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East. Her first novel, 'Year of Wonders' became an international bestseller and her second, 'March' won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She lives with her husband and son in rural Virginia and is currently a fellow at Harvard University.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 17 May 2012 5

March is the second novel by Australian author, Geraldine Brooks. It tells the story of Mr March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, Little Women. But as well as giving the reader an idea of his experience "at the war" (the noise, smell, blood, cold and death are almost palpable), Brooks provides background on the Civil War: attitudes to slavery in the north and south, behaviour of soldiers on both sides of the war, and the experience of the civilian population. She touches on the North's mixed record of high idealism, negligence and outright cruelty regarding the contraband (slaves who came within Union lines) and vividly illustrates the moral dilemma faced in war by pacifists who were also ardent abolitionists. A multitude of facts is incorporated into the story in a way that renders them easily absorbed. By having March narrate the first two thirds of the book, Brooks also gives the reader some of Mr March's history: his youth, his career, meeting Marmee, his involvement in the Abolitionist cause, the reason for his reduced circumstances. Marmee's thoughts and feelings about her husband's actions are detailed when she takes over the narration: this wise, dignified, compliant woman is shown to have unspoken opinions while remaining the strength of the March family. All this Brooks meshes seamlessly with the events in Little Women. While Alcott would have been able to write from personal experience, the vast amount of research that Brooks has had to do is evident on every page. March adds some darker adult resonances to the voids of Alcott's sparkling children's tale. An outstanding read.

Review quote

'Clarity of vision, fine, meticulous prose, the unexpected historical detail, a life-sized protagonist caught inside an unimaginably huge event. It shows the same seamless marriage of research and imagination.' Washington Post 'Brooks's considerable historical research for "March" is pleasingly lightly worn. Her efforts have borne a rich fruit. It is a big, generous romp that manages to make clever use of "Little Women" without suffocating beneath it.' Sunday Times 'A tightly controlled novel in which, you sense, every sentence has been carefully weighed and calculated, and Brooks successfully balances narrative leanness with luxuriant language. "March" is that rare species: a serious popular novel that is not afraid to grapple with big ideas.' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'Researched with great historical thoroughness, "March" hews faithfully to the spirit of Alcott's original ... Louise May Alcott would be well pleased.' The Economist 'This fascinating, beautifully written book both illuminates Alcott's classic and is a moving, gripping work of fiction in its own right.' Image