March – Geraldine Brooks: A book review

I can understand this book being a best seller – Who hasn’t read Little Women. I’m sure most Americans would have and I’d bet that most Australians of my age have also read it. Perhaps someone from the UK and other countries can tell us if this is a book that reached your bookshelves when you were a child.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is a coming of age novel set during the American civil war. The four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are brought up by their strong and intelligent mother whilst their Father is absent as he had become bankrupt and had left to serve as a Chaplain in the war.

Geraldine Brooks’ March, which won the 2006 Pulitzer prize in fiction, tells the unknown story of the Father. Brooks’ research for this book was superb. She apparently read the diaries and letters of Alcott’s own father who was a confidant and friend of Emerson and Thoreau.

We see idealistic March through letters to his wife and children and a narrative that is stimulated by the letters – the filtered truth and the reality. The experiences he has and the hardships he endures makes the reader ponder on the moral complexities of war and the war that wages within an idealistic man who discovers that he is also capable of despicable acts and racism. How he will reconnect with his innocent wife and children after a life-threatening injury that has damaged not only his body but also his mind, where “he felt his gorge rise and knew he would be unable to speak. So this was how it was to be, now: I would do my best to live in the quick world, but the ghosts of the dead would be ever at hand.” She also wove into the story events that the reader would remember from Little Women – linking the two books together.

I have to admit that this was not my favourite book by Geraldine Brooks – People of the Book takes that honour for me – I was glad I read it. Another historical fiction that added to the interest generated in slavery when I looked at the biographies of Frederick Douglass for my thesis. Another book I enjoyed from this era was the Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

For anyone interested in the American Civil War, Little Women or American history I would certainly recommend this book.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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4 Responses to March – Geraldine Brooks: A book review

  1. I haven’t read March, but have enjoyed most of Brooks’ other books. She does a great deal of research and writes well, engaging me with her characters, and intriguing me with the plots.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Charli Mills says:

    Geraldine Brooks is one of my favorite authors. I have not yet read March.

    Liked by 1 person

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