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May 2017: 2004 > March - Geraldine Brooks - 4 Stars

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 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 1904 comments Most readers are familiar with Little Women, Louisa May Alcott's classic novel about four sisters growing up in New England during the American Civil War. Referred to throughout the book is their absent father, John March, who was a chaplain with the Union army. Geraldine Brooks writes a fascinating novel where Mr. March is the central character and we find out what he was doing while Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy were living their lives back at home.

There are four main sections of the book. The first is where we meet young March, a destitute farmer's son who takes to the road as a peddler, until he's invited to stay at a plantation as a guest. Several things happen her that will affect how he lives the rest of his life. This also drives him to New England where he becomes involved with the Underground Railroad, meets his future wife, Marmee, as well as the fiery abolitionist, John Brown. The next part of the book deals with his time in Union-occupied Mississippi, where an Illinois attorney has leased a cotton plantation. The plantation workers are ex-slaves, entitled to wages, but things are not as rosy as March was led to expect. Finally, we learn the reason March ends up in a Union hospital in Washington, D.C.

This book has some interesting original characters as well as some reinterpreted Alcott characters. There are some horrific scenes, especially the treatment of ex-slaves under Union occupation, which is one of the less familiar stories of the Civil War. It was impeccably researched and filled with the kind of period detail that makes wonderful historical fiction. All in all, March is a well told story and I think any fan of Little Women would find it interesting. They might have a hard time reconciling the two books because it's all too apparent Mr. March wanted to protect his little women from the horrors of war.

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5537 comments It was a 4-star read for me as well.

Unfortunately I read it before I got active in Shelfari / Goodreads, so my "review" is pretty sparse.

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