Lucy's Reviews > March

March by Geraldine Brooks
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's review
Jan 09, 2008

really liked it
Read in January, 2008

This is the story of Peter March, the absent father of Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth of Little Women. Clever, poignant, informative, inspiring, heartbreaking, interesting and historical, Brooks takes Louisa May Alcott's famous Little Women, and writes a parallel story about their father's experience during the same year. Little snippets are taken from Little Women, and it's as though you can see that famous play happening in the background in each scene. Sort of like Wicked and The Wizard of Oz, only more serious and important. After all, Peter March wasn't out flying on a broom, he was trying to serve the Union troops in the United States own Civil War.

Brooks bases Peter on Alcott's own father's journals, just as Alcott based her Little Women on herself and her sisters. Bronson Alcott, and his fictional representative, Peter March, are part of the intellectual elite who reside in Concord Massachusetts alongside their contemporaries, Walden, Thoreau, Hawthorn and Brown, who each make an appearance in the story. Idealistic abolitionists with Quaker leanings, March leaves his family to support the union's cause to end slavery and finds great conflict between his inner values and his outward actions.

Brooks writes exclusively in the first person and as a result, I, the reader, was able to understand Peter March as he was, as he wanted to be and as he failed to be. He is a fantastic character. My only complaint with the book is that she abandoned Peter for a few chapters and wrote as Marmee, his wife, when he lay sick with fever. She eventually returns to Peter's voice, which gives the story the resolution it needs, and while Marmees' thoughts are equally moving and necessary, it made the ending a little choppy.

Despite that lack of continuity, I enthusiastically recommend March. It will force you to examine your own viewpoints about war, education, race, marriage, courage, pride and love.
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