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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

March by Geraldine Brooks

March - Geraldine Brooks

This is more like it.


When I read Little Women, I couldn't help but wonder where the real hardships of war or poverty were. The author told her readers that the family was poor, but they never seemed effected by it. The father was at war, but there was no serious concern for the thousands of men fighting and dying not so far away. 


Brooks reveals the story behind the smiling faces and constant calm in March. The temper that we are told Marmee has is demonstrated in full force, and the reader sees her very real struggle to manage a family with a transcendentalist dreamer at the helm. I could begin to admire her in this novel and can only believe that her daughters would have benefited from seeing more of this multifaceted personality than the one that hides the truth to shelter them from it.


Through the father, who is largely absent in the original work, one is taken into the trenches of the US Civil War. His character is heartbreakingly real. Filled with moral certainty and hope, he ends up depressed when he cannot save the day. His experiences make him doubt himself and everything he believes. He begins to understand that there will be no easy solution to the issues that separate North and South. Brooks tells the stories behind the letters that go back to his little women, where he tells half truths and carefully chosen lines to protect them from the harsh reality that he has trouble coping with.


This author has great skill in creating realistic characters and placing the reader in the center of each scene. I could feel myself wince as a whip was brought down on a slave's back and feel Marmee's frustration over her lot in life. I only picked this book up because Brooks was the writer. After reading Little Women, I had no serious desire to read more, but I am very glad that I kept my faith in the talents of this wonderful author. It was a worthy and moving story.