Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review-MARCH, by Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks
Penguin Books
January 31, 2006
304 pages, Paperback

I was introduced to Geraldine Brooks’ enchanting writing ability in her recent book CALEB'S CROSSING. (See Review). I have kept MARCH on my nightstand for several years with the intent to read it. My interest in the Civil War and Louisa May Alcott’s novel LITTLE WOMEN was what originally drew me to this book. My expectations as I began to read MARCH were high and as soon as I read the first few pages I knew this was another extraordinary novel by this author.

Alcott’s widely cherished classic, LITTLE WOMEN lends Geraldine Brooks the character of Mr. March, father and husband who was an absent father in Alcott’s story. Brooks styles an imaginative interpretation of his life as a young boy and later when he is marries  Marmee and they have a family of four girls.  Readers will recognize the scenes of Alcott’s story that are threaded in the plot as well as major historical events like Harpers’ Ferry and the clandestine efforts of the Underground Railroad. Brooks’ research and examination of diaries and other primary sources, provided a palette of the past that emerges in the scenes depicting chilling episodes surrounding the brutality of slave life, the primitive medical care and unsanitary conditions on and off the battlefield and how the Civil War altered all families lives forever.  

When the Civil War breaks out, Mr. March is a wealthy established citizen of New England who shares an idealistic passion and abolitionist views with his wife. As the frenzy of the crowds roar, he becomes energized with youthful enthusiasm. He believes he will make a difference and he impulsively signs up to serve as a chaplain. Marmee is surprised and concerned about his decision, but decides to hide her reluctance.  

The story begins in Virginia in October 1861 during the battle of Bull’s Bluff in Virginia.   It is written from March’s point of view as her writes home.  The reader is allowed to intimately insinuate into his thoughts and read his letters home to his wife.  He hides the the truth to shield his family from the war’s bloody grasp. Yet, the reader is privy to everything he experiences and believes. The images that unfold are raw, unedited and powerful. This book soars with sensitivity and resonating prose that lingers page after page. It is a beautifully written novel with multiple themes to reflect on. The language will lure you back again and again. Geraldine Brooks, is an originally inventive storyteller. It is easy to understand why MARCH received the Pulitzer Prize in 2006. 
Highly recommended. 

Geraldine Brooks Website
Interview about MARCH from Geraldine Brooks Website
Disclosure: I purchased the copy of this book.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011].


Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

Sadly, I have not read any books by Geraldine Brooks. I did pick this up at one of our library sales though. I love books set in the Civil War which is what drew me to this book. Hopefully, one of these days I will get a chance to read it.

Anna and Serena said...

This review will be featured on War Through the Generations on Sept. 28. I hope everything is okay; I noticed you have posted in awhile.


wisteria said...

Anna and Serena...Thanks for posting the review. You are correct. I have not posted in a while due to ill health. Hope to be able to do something soon. Thanks for the concern.

Cheryl Gebhart said...

Great review! I read this book earlier this year for the challenge and really enjoyed it too.