I am quickly becoming a fan of Geraldine Brooks. If you have read Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women", then "March" is the book for you. Brooks bases this novel around "Little Women"'s absent father, Mr. March.
I was expecting, from reading the back of the book, a story based around Mr. March, and was anticipating an account of his involvement in the Civil War. I was not expecting, and was delighted to read, many flashbacks from his youth to his early years with his wife, Marmee.
This is a fantastic work of historical fiction on many levels - first being that it weaves another level to "Little Women", a solid classic (one of my favorites!). There are many times when the novel flashes back to March's early years as a husband and father - and I can picture the characters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Brooks describes these scenes well, but in a much more mature voice. She has taken this classic tale and added another layer to the story - focusing not on the little women left behind, but on the harsh realities of the times, and on the marriage of Marmee and March.
Second, Brooks does a wonderful job of capturing the emotions and feeling of a war ravaged landscape ridden with racism. Geraldine Brooks has a wonderful way of writing. For a visual person such as myself, this book was a delight to read. The book was full of passages that tapped into the imagination - making the reader easily able to visualize the scene being described. For example - "As we left that city, there were pickets along the rail lines and one felt the war approaching like an oncoming storm." I love this! I can feel what the character is feeling - like the dead summer air, with thunder clapping in the distance, or that electric feeling in the air before a severe snowstorm. You feel it coming. Another example - "Everywhere, troops and wagons; caissons; and tents, tents, and more tents - pale cities of them - the cold and cheerless cloth houses of our army, whitening the countryside like drifts of snow." Can you picture that?
As (clearly) a fan of "Little Women", I loved being able to read more not only about Mr. March, but about his wife, Marmee. I think the fiery character Brooks describes will surprise you. I've always thought that if I had lived during this period of history, I would like to be like Jo, but after reading this book, I see where Jo gets her personality from.
Make sure to read the afterword, where Brooks describes her inspiration for the character of Mr. March - Alcott's father, Bronson Alcott. I think that overall, Louisa May Alcott would be pleased!
Four wine glasses!
Enjoy this wonderful novel - check it out on amazon!