As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the American Civil 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 taken the character of the absent father, March, who has gone off to war leaving his wife and daughters. To evoke him, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
In Brooks’ telling, March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body, and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.
From the vibrant intellectual world of New England and the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale and portrays the moral complexity of war, a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism, and by the temptations of a powerful forbidden attraction.
An essay by Geraldine Brooks published in the New Yorker Jan 10, 2005. [PDF]
Buy the book
March read by Richard Easton is also available from Penguin Audio (9780.14.280092.8)