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
"Brilliant...Geraldine Brooks' new novel, March
, is a very great book....Brooks has magnificently wielded the novelist's license."—Beth Kephart
, Chicago Tribune
"A beautifully wrought story....Gripping....A taut plot, vivid characters and provocative issues."—Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Honorable, elegant and true."—John Freeman, The Wall Street Journal
"Harrowing and moving...In her previous book, Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks proved herself to be a wonderful novelist. March has all the same virtues...casting a spell that lasts much longer than the reading of it."—Karen Joy Fowler, The Washington Post World
"Wholly original...deeply engaging."—Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
"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
"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
“History—and its colorful characters—come alive.” -USA Today
“Required Reading . . . The story of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and Lizzie Keckley, a former slave who became Mrs. Lincolns seamstress and confidante. After the presidents assassination, Keckley created the Mary Todd Lincoln quilt and also a scandalous memoir. A new spin on the story.” --New York Post
“Jennifer Chiaverini imagines the first ladys most private affairs through the eyes of an unlikely confidante.” -Harpers Bazaar
“Chiaverini has drawn a loving portrait of a complex and gifted woman . . . Mrs. Lincolns Dressmaker helps to illuminate the path on which her long and remarkable life led her.” -St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“An example of what Jennifer Chiaverini does so well in her enlightening new historical novel, Mrs. Lincolns Dressmaker, occurs late in the book, when a newly widowed Mary Todd Lincoln shares a letter of condolence from Queen Victoria with her dressmaker, a former slave named Elizabeth Keckley. . . . Mrs. Lincolns Dressmaker vividly imagines how the Civil War touched daily life in Washington.” --Washingtonian
“Mrs. Lincolns Dressmaker is a wonderful novel that covers many topics surrounding the events of the 1860s in Washington and the following decades… Any reader interested in President Lincoln, Civil War history, or historical fiction should love this book.” -Bookreporter.com
“All the characters are brilliantly written, and readers will enjoy getting to know them. [Chiaverini] brings to life long-forgotten snapshots of Americas past with style, grace and respect.” -RT Book Reviews
“Taking readers through times of war and peace as seen through the eyes of an extraordinary woman, the author brings Civil War Washington to vivid life through her meticulously researched authentic detail. Chiaverini's characters are compelling and accurate; the reader truly feels drawn into the intimate scenes at the White House.” -Library Journal
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.