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March: A Novelby Geraldine Brooks
In her follow-up to Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks has taken historical fiction to another dimension altogether. Using America's Civil War as her frame, she plants a famous (but deeply mysterious) literary figure at its center: Mr. March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott's classic, Little Women. The result is a wholly original novel, a rich re-imagining of the nation's political and literary foundations, and arguably Brooks's finest work to date.
Synopses & Reviews
An extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history — by the author of the international bestseller Year of Wonders.
From Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story "filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man" (Sue Monk Kidd). With "pitch-perfect writing" (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs.
A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks's place as a renowned author of historical fiction.
"Brooks's luminous second novel, after 2001's acclaimed Year of Wonders, imagines the Civil War experiences of Mr. March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. An idealistic Concord cleric, March becomes a Union chaplain and later finds himself assigned to be a teacher on a cotton plantation that employs freed slaves, or 'contraband.' His narrative begins with cheerful letters home, but March gradually reveals to the reader what he does not to his family: the cruelty and racism of Northern and Southern soldiers, the violence and suffering he is powerless to prevent and his reunion with Grace, a beautiful, educated slave whom he met years earlier as a Connecticut peddler to the plantations. In between, we learn of March's earlier life: his whirlwind courtship of quick-tempered Marmee, his friendship with Emerson and Thoreau and the surprising cause of his family's genteel poverty. When a Confederate attack on the contraband farm lands March in a Washington hospital, sick with fever and guilt, the first-person narrative switches to Marmee, who describes a different version of the years past and an agonized reaction to the truth she uncovers about her husband's life. Brooks, who based the character of March on Alcott's transcendentalist father, Bronson, relies heavily on primary sources for both the Concord and wartime scenes; her characters speak with a convincing 19th-century formality, yet the narrative is always accessible. Through the shattered dreamer March, the passion and rage of Marmee and a host of achingly human minor characters, Brooks's affecting, beautifully written novel drives home the intimate horrors and ironies of the Civil War and the difficulty of living honestly with the knowledge of human suffering. Agent, Kris Dahl. 10-city author tour. (Mar. 7)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Brooks's narrative is remarkably tight. Whereas much literary fiction wallows in digression, here every scrap of information propels the story forward. Her references to Little Women will evoke for quantities of her readers a beloved companion of girlhood." Christina Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly
"Good books can be slotted, characterized, explained; great books often cannot. I believe Geraldine Brooks' new novel, March, is a very great book....It breathes new life into the historical fiction genre, the borrowing-a-character-from-the-deep-past phenomenon, the old I-shall-tell-you-a-story-through-letters tradition." Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune
"One of the most superbly rendered works of historical fiction... It's lively history, the sort that jumps off the page and won't let you go. Brooks' talent lies in her ability to bring life and personality to history." Catherine Parnell, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"In the formal, delicate cadences of 19th century syntax, Brooks's second novel synthesizes a taut plot, vivid characters and provocative issues....March is a beautifully wrought story...a moving and inspirational tour de force." Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times
"This richness, of time and place and of March's unrelenting struggle to live up to the man he thinks he should be, makes March a spell-binder....It is the feeling that the reader is witness to truth that elevates March beyond a gimmick to an engrossing, thought-provoking tale." Robin Vidimos, Denver Post
"Brooks has written a gripping story of an impossible time, and simultaneously a neat deconstruction and reconstruction of one of American literature's best-known families." Maya Muir, Portland Oregonian
"A beautifully wrought story about how war dashes ideals, unhinges moral certainties and drives a wedge of bitter experience and unspeakable memories between husband and wife." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Inspired....A disturbing, supple, and deeply satisfying story, put together with craft and care and imagery worthy of a poet." The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Louisa May Alcott would be well pleased." The Economist
As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the war, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.
From Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story "filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man" (Sue Monk Kidd). With "pitch-perfect writing" (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks's place as a renowned author of historical fiction.
About the Author
Geraldine Brooks is the author of Year of Wonders and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Previously, Brooks was a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, stationed in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East.
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