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  • March
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3.9 out of 5 stars35
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 28 April 2006
It has been years since I read Little Women, but more recently I have visited Louisa May's home town of Concord. I picked this novel with scepticism as "sequels" or spinoffs rarely live up to the original piece.

I was totally absorbed by the book. Frequently I found myself unable to decide whether this was fiction or fact. The writing is excellent, the characters well drawn, and the novel written in first person (mostly from the view of March, occasionally with the voice of Marmee) which made it all the more immediate. I will be recommending this novel all over the place and buying more of Brooke's work.

As the review says, this is the tale of the father of the Little Women, and flicks between his present position as chaplain in the American Civil War and his past when he first visited the southern states as a pedlar in his youth. He is a staunch abolitionist with fixed views, but the book challenges these views in terms of his idealism versus practicalities of the age, and also explores where personal courage lies. But over and above these lofty ideals, this book is vividly written and a wonderful reading experience - which is what great fiction should be. A novel worthy of being placed alongside Little Women.

ps. Please don't be put off by the 'recommended by Richard and Judy' epithet!
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on 24 January 2008
What a great story! 'March' is really well-written and researched and fills a neat gap in US Civil War literature.

'March' is the story of the girls' father in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'. In 'Little Women' the girls' father is absent throughout the novel as he is away at war, and Geraldine Brooks has picked up on this thread and woven a wonderfully inspirational novel around the story of Mr. March. Through it she tests out the theme of the morality of war which works ok with the causes of the US Civil War, and re-integration into a normal existence after war - another sensitive subject.

March is an abolitionist and goes to serve for the Union cause as an army chaplain. He joins up in a moment of town fervour, only to find that he cannot join with his fellow townspeople and is left to find his way amongst strangers from another regiment. The writing - predominantly from March's point of view - varies between letters home to Marmee and recollections of earlier times, and stories he wouldn't consider writing about to Marmee and the girls.

It's very sympathetically written and you can't help but be affected by March's journey through the landscape of war. The book doesn't impinge on 'Little Women' until right at the very end when March returns home, so there's no overlap with the all-time classic by Louisa May Alcott, and it complements 'Little Women' really well. Can't recommend it enough!
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on 31 July 2006
I found this book by accident in a local supermarket and bought the book solely off seeing the front cover! I was unhappy at first to discover that it linked to one of my personal favourites - the classic 'Little Women' as spin offs tend to be money making let downs, in my opinion.

However this was different, the link was underplayed and sensitive to what may have truly happened and the subject of the American Civil War combined with the personal battles of Mr.March between his conscience and his greed were excellent.

I very much enjoyed the read and this book has been given a place on my bookcase - a place I reserve solely for the books I feel could be future classics!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 April 2005
How many of us have read, often reread "Little Women" and wondered about the father? Amy, Beth and Jo are very much a part of our literary lives, but Pere March is missing. Now, thanks to the imaginative pen of Geraldine Brooks (Year of Wonders, 2001) we meet and come to know the man.
His story is primarily told through letters that he writes to his family, pens from the devastation of the Civil War. Stage and film actor Richard Easton inhabits the voice of this caring chaplain to tell listeners what March shares with his family and the horrors that he does not.
Captain March has gone to serve the Union forces, bolstered by his faith and high ideals. He's ill prepared to find himself amidst carnage and cruelty. He is assigned to teach on a plantation where he meets once again a beautiful slave whom he had known before his marriage.
The author vividly imagines early friendships between March and Emerson and Thoreau, as well as his first introduction to the woman who would become his wife. She will recall their early life a bit differently.
Those who enjoy history blended with richly conceived fiction will be well pleased with "March."
- Gail Cooke
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 February 2010
Geraldine Brooks has skilfully and subtly invented the story of Mr March from the book Little Women, the one member of the family that only appears in Louisa May Alcott's book towards the very end when he comes home from the war for Christmas. His story is very different from that of the four sisters and their mother, though many of the same characters appear within it. March is a Unionist, full of ideals and he and his wife are involved very early in the Underground Railway that helped black people escape from their slavery on the plantations to safety in the Northern states. When war breaks out, March becomes a chaplain in the Unionist army, though the story starts when he is a very young man of 18 and a peddler of trinkets and books who travels into Southern states and meets up with some of the people he is going to meet later in the story. March is, of course, a thoroughly good man, though his story is not without its moral equivalence.

Brooks does not flinch from showing the reader the full horror of men at war with each other and March forms a bond with one female slave whose story embraces many of the cruelties and abominations of the time and gives an altogether more realistic impression of the Civil War that is raging while Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy are growing up with Marmee in a little bubble of girlish safety in the north. March is a definite improvement on Little Women which had only a fleeting charm for me as a child, and is altogether a more interesting novel. If the writing is sometimes florid this suits the protagonist, March, whose character is very well developed as a charming, highly idealistic man, though wrecked by his experiences of war and perhaps not quite the moral, upstanding paragon of Little Women.
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on 11 March 2008
This book is based on the father of the girls of Little Women.Mr March as he know as in the book goes off to War down south during the American Civil War. March is troubled by War thoughout the book & what he sees often distrubes his very soul. The book is slow to start off with but stick with it as you get into it the use of words will surpise and enlighten you and make it hard for you to put it down. I have never read Little Women but after i finished reading this i went straight out and got a copy of the book
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on 31 March 2006
Great concept I thought at first - remember Little Women by Louisa May Alcott? Well, this is the story of these girls' father during all the time he was away from them in the war. But despite the idea, the book somehow did not work for me. The book takes us forward and backwards in time (sometimes confusedly) as we read how the war broke the man physically and mentally. In letters home he doesn't reveal the true depth of horrors or moral dilemmas he faces - all to spare his family - and whilst some experiences rightly serve to outrage the reader, the plot seemed rather contrived. Couldn't Geraldine Brooks have ditched the connection with Little Women and told one man's war story in its own right.? Or does the book depend commercially on the link? I felt the book was hampered by its connection with Little Women. It seemed as if the author laboured to make the two stories come together in the end. The love, especially the sugary romance, between March and the perfect Marmie grated, whereas the horrifying message of war and what it does to people could have been explored better in its own right.
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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.
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on 16 July 2006
this is a beautifully written book. It falls within the genre of a "classic", and brought me back to all the wonderful books that I read when studying literature..

Of course the "self rightuousness" is paramount... but isn't that exactly the point which the book is trying to make... it reveals the difference between those who "talk" about abolition as an ideal, and those who actually live it...

I was drawn into this book from the very first page, and would recommend that anyone who wants to "feel" the elements of the past should not hesitate to buy it.
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on 8 May 2006
I, too, was sceptical about this book as 'spin offs' so rarely seem to work; but I was so wrong! This is a wonderful book. It is beautifully written, historically very interesting, and very moving. March himself is a real flesh and blood character - someone I came to care about, but someone with character flaws that make him very believable. There is a fine line to be trodden between describing the true horrors of war, and keeping the writing readable, and this novel treads that line well - there are truly shocking events, which are very thought provoking, but the action is never gratuitous.I thought the links with 'Little Women' were perfect and never over played. I loved this book and will be recommending it far and wide!
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