March – Book Review

I simply ask you to see that there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is to get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try to do the good of which our hands are capable for the people who come in our way. -From March, page 268-

In Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women, one character – Mr. March – is absent and only exists in the reader’s imagination. Geraldine Brooks re-imagines this character within the pages of March. Part history and part love story, this novel is a carefully wrought tale of one man’s journey through America’s most devastating war.

The novel is told primarily through the voice of Mr. March, sometimes through his letters home to his wife and daughters, sometimes through flashbacks. But the most powerful sections of the story are the portrayals of violence and loss.

The current bore him away from me feet first. He was prone on the surface for a moment, his arms stretched out to me. I swam hard, but just as I came within reach a wave, turning back upon a sunken rock, caught his legs and pushed the lower half of his body under, so that it seemed he stood upright in the river for a moment. The current spun him round, a full turn, his arms thrown upward with the abandon of a Gypsy dancer. The firing, high on the bluff, had loosed showers of foliage, so that he swirled in concert with the sunshine-colored leaves. He was face to face with me again when the water sucked him under. -From March, page 7-

The echoes of Mr. March’s experiences continue to resonate beyond the battlefield, infiltrating his marriage and idealistic view of the world.  With gripping descriptions, Brooks creates a compelling story which is hard to put down. This Pulitzer prize winning novel leaves the reader with questions such as:  How do the realities of war and loss unhinge a man’s ideals? And can we ever be the same after such a life changing experience?

The narrative tension and fine story development of March sticks with the reader long after the final page has been turned.


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