Monday, 14 November 2016

March by Geraldine Brooks

March by Geraldine Brooks
First published by Viking Press in 2005. Won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Audio edition narrated by Richard Easton published by Penguin Audio.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Downloaded the audiobook from AudioSYNC

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"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."

I liked the idea of filling in the missing year of the Little Women's father and especially chose to buy a copy of Louisa May Alcott's classic recently as I wanted it to be fresh in my memory when listening to March. Geraldine Brooks has done a great job of aligning her story with Alcott's and I enjoyed spotting nods to the original. She has also taken a far wider view of 1860s America providing an overview of the Civil War and the societal divides which led to it. I am sure that March has been impeccably researched and every minute, superbly narrated by Richard Easton, rang with authentic detail, however I didn't find myself as captivated by this book as I had hoped I would be.

For starters, March himself is infuriatingly and patronisingly 'right on' at every opportunity, even though his actions frequently fail to back up his holier than thou words. I almost cheered when fever finally struck him dumb - not the opinion I should have had, I know! Marmee, his wife takes over storytelling for the last couple of hours however and it was interesting to hear her take on events of which we had previously heard from him. 'Don't assume' I think would be the overriding message! Overall, I am glad to have had the opportunity to listen to this audiobook. I did learn a little more about America's Civil War than I had previously known and I liked Brooks' writing style, but I think the book could have done with a stronger storyline. As it was, I felt Brooks was trying to show as many aspects of the War as she could and having March flit from pillar to post to enable this didn't really work for me.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Geraldine Brooks / Historical fiction / Books from Australia

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