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March: A Love Story in a Time of War [Paperback]

Geraldine Brooks
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2008

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Richard and Judy pick.

From the author of the acclaimed ‘Year of Wonders’ and ‘People of the Book’, a historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe on the front lines of the American Civil War.

Set during the American Civil War, ‘March’ tells the story of John March, known to us as the father away from his family of girls in ‘Little Women’, Louisa May Alcott’s classic American novel. In Brooks’s telling, March emerges as an abolitionist and idealistic chaplain on the front lines of a war that tests his faith in himself and in the Union cause when he learns that his side, too, is capable of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness in a Washington hospital, he must reassemble the shards of his shattered mind and body, and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.

As Alcott drew on her real-life sisters in shaping the characters of her little women, so Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, an idealistic educator, animal rights exponent and abolitionist who was a friend and confidante of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The story spans the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, through to the first year of the Civil War as the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats.

Like her bestselling ‘Year of Wonders’, ‘March’ follows an unconventional love story. It explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief.

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March: A Love Story in a Time of War + Year of Wonders + Caleb's Crossing
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Edition edition (1 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007165870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007165872
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Geraldine Brooks was born and raised in Australia. After moving to the USA she worked for eleven years on the Wall Street Journal, covering stories from some of the world's most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East. Her first novels 'A Year of Wonders' and 'March have become international bestsellers, the latter earning Brooks the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She lives with her husband and son in rural Virginia and is currently a fellow at Harvard University.

Product Description


‘Clarity of vision, fine, meticulous prose, the unexpected historical detail, a life-sized protagonist caught inside an unimaginably huge event. It shows the same seamless marriage of research and imagination.’ Washington Post

‘Brooks’s considerable historical research for “March” is pleasingly lightly worn. Her efforts have borne a rich fruit. It is a big, generous romp that manages to make clever use of “Little Women” without suffocating beneath it.’ Sunday Times

‘A tightly controlled novel in which, you sense, every sentence has been carefully weighed and calculated, and Brooks successfully balances narrative leanness with luxuriant language. “March” is that rare species: a serious popular novel that is not afraid to grapple with big ideas.’ Waterstones Books Quarterly

'Researched with great historical thoroughness, “March” hews faithfully to the spirit of Alcott's original … Louise May Alcott would be well pleased.' The Economist

‘This fascinating, beautifully written book both illuminates Alcott's classic and is a moving, gripping work of fiction in its own right.' Image

About the Author

Geraldine Brooks was born and raised in Australia. After moving to the USA she worked for eleven years on the Wall Street Journal, covering stories from some of the world’s most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East. Her first novel, ‘Year of Wonders’ became an international bestseller and her second, ‘March’ won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She lives with her husband and son in rural Virginia and is currently a fellow at Harvard University.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it 28 April 2006
By Susie
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! 24 Jan 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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read!! 31 July 2006
By Shell
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A RICHLY CONCEIVED STORY SUPERBLY READ 18 April 2005
By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:MP3 CD
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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars March - Disappointed 31 Mar 2006
By A Customer
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Couldn't put it down a compelling and beautifully written book.
Just when I thought it couldn't get better than Year of Wonders Geraldine Brooks has excelled herself.
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars American Civil War setting
I read it after seeing the film Lincoln.

I liked the idea of using the family from Louisa Alcott's Little Women books, but I found the story somewhat contrived.
Published 13 months ago by Ms Nicola Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars How can north and south be so different?
I cannot believe that people can treat other human beings like that! Not sure if I liked the link with little women.
Published 13 months ago by Elizabeth Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable
I enjoyed this book very much, as would anyone brought up on Little Women who wondered about Mr March. It was imaginative and told the story of the war vividly.
Published 15 months ago by Mrs. C. M. Velarde
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read on the American civil War
It was only ok as the author took a lot from the book 'Little Women'.
It was interesting to read the prejudices that still occurred after the war, in particular with those who... Read more
Published 15 months ago by MRS JULIET R DANGERFIELD
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Geraldine Brrok's best novel
I found the book interesting in parts, but the characters seemed a little wooden and hard to believe in, not as good as her other books, People of the Book and my favourite Year of... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jc
1.0 out of 5 stars march- geraldine brookes
If this was a stand alone book, it would have been passable, but when compared with Little women, a book that I loved and read many times, it falls short. Read more
Published 21 months ago by bassett44
5.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding read
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. Read more
Published on 21 May 2012 by Cloggie Downunder
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Gone with the Wind
It wasn't until I was well into this book that it began to grip and I realised I had also read 'The Year of Wonder' by the same author. Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2012 by Sonja Haggett "Fountain"
3.0 out of 5 stars John March Absent Father From 'Little Women'
"March" tells the story of John March, known to lots of us as the absent father in "Little Women", Louisa May Alcott's classic American novel. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 2010 by LindyLouMac
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