Customer Reviews for

March

Average Rating 4
( 127 )
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(47)

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(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

What Ever Happened with Mr. March, Father and Husband of the Little Women?

I loved reading this book, the key word here being "reading". It has been a long time since I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading, per se. I approached March with some trepidation, having previously read Geraldine Brooks' book, People of the Book, which I bou...
I loved reading this book, the key word here being "reading". It has been a long time since I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading, per se. I approached March with some trepidation, having previously read Geraldine Brooks' book, People of the Book, which I bought in hard cover, thus spending a chunk of change on it, and in the end was somewhat disappointed. March does not disappoint. It is the story of what happened to the father in Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women. To enjoy this book, you don't need to have read Little Women, however, I've heard it said that in March, one can find echoes of Little Women. It is written in language, styled from its day, early 1860's, and at times it reads as poetry. The book is about the father's experiences in his position as a Chaplain in the Union army, positioned below the Mason-Dixon line. It moves between New England, where the family lives, and the places of war. There is no lack of demonstrating the savagery of war and the savagery of Slavery and racism. War is neither idealized, nor demonized in the book.

The author uses two techniques that I love to find in fiction. The first is mixing in real historical characters among her fictional ones (reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime and The Book of Daniel) so you feel you are getting to personally know them, in this case... Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson are neighbors of the March family. You get to see John Brown, the famous abolitionist who advocated insurrection as his means of ridding the country of slavery, as basically having tricked Dr. March into lending him a huge sum of money and consequently losing it all, which proved to be the financial downfall of March and his family. It is a very interesting interplay of fact and fiction. The other device, that I have always loved, is the use of letter writing as a means of moving the story along ( this for me is reminiscent of one of my all time favorite novels, A Woman of Independent Means, by Elizabeth Forsyth Hailey). It is in March's letters that some of the most beautiful descriptions and eloquent use of language can be found. Here is but one example...

"There was a little barge-ferry then, that would stop on request, at a jetty on the island's northern tip. I had alighted there on a whim and walked the mile and a half to the house whistling the song of the boatman who had poled the crossing. The white dogwoods were in flower all the way up the drive, and the air seemed viscous and honey-fragrant, unlike the mud-scent of a chill May morning on Spindle Hill."

I highly recommend this book.

posted by Sherril on July 12, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Astoundingly disappointing.

When I heard about the premise of this book--a novel about the father of the March Sisters from that perennial favorite 'Little Women'--I was tremendously excited. When that novel shortly thereafter received the Pulitzer, I rushed right out to get it from the library, ...
When I heard about the premise of this book--a novel about the father of the March Sisters from that perennial favorite 'Little Women'--I was tremendously excited. When that novel shortly thereafter received the Pulitzer, I rushed right out to get it from the library, even though I thought I would probably end up buying it. I'm so glad I didn't. I've been interested in Bronson Alcott and his community for some time, and was rabid to know how Brooks based Mr. March on him. My first problem with the book was this: in elementary school, I was a historical novel fan, and read a great many civil war books, and as I read I realized to my disappointment that there was nothing new in 'March.' I felt like I had read such similar happenings, such similar moral dilemmas before that I was left bewildered. My second problem was this: Brooks, apparently unable to write the character of Marmee as Louisa May Alcott created her, chose instead to make her into a completely different person, and one who I strongly disliked. I was left feeling like Brooks hadn't taken 'Little Women' itself very seriously, but had rather used it as a gimmick. All in all, I think there are many better books available, and urge you to read those.

posted by Anonymous on November 5, 2006

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  • Posted July 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    What Ever Happened with Mr. March, Father and Husband of the Little Women?

    I loved reading this book, the key word here being "reading". It has been a long time since I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading, per se. I approached March with some trepidation, having previously read Geraldine Brooks' book, People of the Book, which I bought in hard cover, thus spending a chunk of change on it, and in the end was somewhat disappointed. March does not disappoint. It is the story of what happened to the father in Louisa May Alcott's classic Little Women. To enjoy this book, you don't need to have read Little Women, however, I've heard it said that in March, one can find echoes of Little Women. It is written in language, styled from its day, early 1860's, and at times it reads as poetry. The book is about the father's experiences in his position as a Chaplain in the Union army, positioned below the Mason-Dixon line. It moves between New England, where the family lives, and the places of war. There is no lack of demonstrating the savagery of war and the savagery of Slavery and racism. War is neither idealized, nor demonized in the book.

    The author uses two techniques that I love to find in fiction. The first is mixing in real historical characters among her fictional ones (reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime and The Book of Daniel) so you feel you are getting to personally know them, in this case... Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson are neighbors of the March family. You get to see John Brown, the famous abolitionist who advocated insurrection as his means of ridding the country of slavery, as basically having tricked Dr. March into lending him a huge sum of money and consequently losing it all, which proved to be the financial downfall of March and his family. It is a very interesting interplay of fact and fiction. The other device, that I have always loved, is the use of letter writing as a means of moving the story along ( this for me is reminiscent of one of my all time favorite novels, A Woman of Independent Means, by Elizabeth Forsyth Hailey). It is in March's letters that some of the most beautiful descriptions and eloquent use of language can be found. Here is but one example...

    "There was a little barge-ferry then, that would stop on request, at a jetty on the island's northern tip. I had alighted there on a whim and walked the mile and a half to the house whistling the song of the boatman who had poled the crossing. The white dogwoods were in flower all the way up the drive, and the air seemed viscous and honey-fragrant, unlike the mud-scent of a chill May morning on Spindle Hill."

    I highly recommend this book.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2006

    Astoundingly disappointing.

    When I heard about the premise of this book--a novel about the father of the March Sisters from that perennial favorite 'Little Women'--I was tremendously excited. When that novel shortly thereafter received the Pulitzer, I rushed right out to get it from the library, even though I thought I would probably end up buying it. I'm so glad I didn't. I've been interested in Bronson Alcott and his community for some time, and was rabid to know how Brooks based Mr. March on him. My first problem with the book was this: in elementary school, I was a historical novel fan, and read a great many civil war books, and as I read I realized to my disappointment that there was nothing new in 'March.' I felt like I had read such similar happenings, such similar moral dilemmas before that I was left bewildered. My second problem was this: Brooks, apparently unable to write the character of Marmee as Louisa May Alcott created her, chose instead to make her into a completely different person, and one who I strongly disliked. I was left feeling like Brooks hadn't taken 'Little Women' itself very seriously, but had rather used it as a gimmick. All in all, I think there are many better books available, and urge you to read those.

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2008

    Little Women for the grown-up

    When a book is written about a family, the perspective change will inevitably create a vast change in the tale: how many of us could reflect accurately of the intimacy of another's marriage, while we could expound forever on the nuances of our own. Readers must be willing to make this shift--- Lest you overlook an intimate, wonderful story, and lose the chance to place yourself in those times for a moment or two. Unlike one review which cites Brooks as 'ruining' Marmee, I felt wholeheartedly that what Brooks provides the reader is a glimpse of the MOTHER as she feels within her own heart while 'Little Women' portrays her as she is seen BY her daughter. What woman would wish for her child to see or hear or observe her doubts about her marriage, her struggle for self-discipline, her moments of anguish, or even the mixed underlayment of the 'public' victories? At least none of us would wish for our child to witness them raw, only perhaps deduce a more subtle version of the effects of the 'tough times'. I felt that Brooks was honest to this difference of view point and NAILED the frequent misperceptions between the spouses, at times almost humorously. For those who like me are modestly sensitive to the legacy of MS Alcott, Brooks does, 'I feel', keep intact the faithfulness and steadfast NATURE of the characters. In the end they typically choose the noble way to act, even if you must 'forgive' them their humanness in their thoughts. I felt this novel reflects how many people have kept their marriages together across time, in tough times, and relayed a depth to the characters that could OFTEN be omitted due to carrying the plot as high priority. Here the character development WAS the plot. Well done.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Impacting Poetic Writing Style

    Geraldine Brooks has written such a full and rich story in so small a book. I almost put it down after reading the first few pages because the writing was so descriptive that I felt as if I was amongst the wounded soldiers in the civil war (and I am very squeamish). I am glad that I pressed on though because the book was unique and enlightening. It tells the imagined story of Mr March of Alcott's Little Women. It is by no means an imitation of Alcott's style or content though. Brooks story is tragic, intense and 'real' in it's portrayal of the human condition. "March" examines the morality of the intellect alongside the passions and failings of human nature.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Louisa May Alcott would be pleased!

    Well researched historical novel. Loved this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    Worthy award winner.

    A bit of fictional history worth the read. The writing is excellent, and the story line intriguing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    Loved it!

    Ms Brooks never disappoints. As good as "People of the BooK". I love novels with historic content.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not "my" Geraldine Brooks

    I became infatuated with Brooks with "Book" and fell in love after reading "Year". "March" left me nonplussed. I think it is a topic not of interest to me, not her.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

    thoughtful and inventive

    took Mr. March out of Little Women scenerio and gave him a life of his own. Brings the Cival War to life thru Mr. March in a different way. Also deals with racism and the ethos of slavery and how it relates to where we are today in our nation. quite inventive and insightful. A bit hard to read at first until you get used to the manner of the prose. But worth the read. Good for a book club.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2009

    I loved this book

    Many other people have reviewed this book, so you do not need another plot summary. All I can say is --READ THIS BOOK. It is wonderful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    March by Geraldine Brooks (Katie)

    March by Geraldine Brooks takes us on a journey back in time, and into the middle of hell; the civil war where a brother may come to kill a brother. She begins with Mr. March's wonderful letters, being a compassionate man he writes to his wife often on his "lap desk" however, even though he is in the middle of a war, that is not entirely the picture he sends to her. For her he centers the conversation within his letter on the concept that his ink is in fact made of black berries. Instead of telling his wife of war he gives her "sweet words" showing us how his love can drive him to see only a little blood on the table of a butcher. Somehow he had to gain the strength to whisper a prayer so close into a young man's; a Childs ear, as the surgeons blade soon came down upon that part of him which could now only serve to be a Burdon.
    This is not entirely a love story, not at all! But it is a story of war, and why people fight them; the freedom of that child who no longer has a mother to fight for him. Geraldine gives this child a true voice not educated in proper grammar; he is not allowed to learn it as a slave. She describes pain even in happy moments, the forbidden love, or ambition Mr. March has to educate those who are not lucky enough to know their ABC's, or perhaps are not allowed to know them. Mr. March did profoundly love his wife a conductor of the Underground Railroad and his love for her is no doubt a part of his ambition to go on this dreadful journey.
    March by Geraldine Brooks is both a heart wrenching and inspiring story, it depicts Mr. March constantly surrounded by death or suffering "For as soon as a man lets his eye drop from the heavens to the horizon, he risks setting it on some scene of desolation." However Mr. March appears strong, though humanly so, he does not cease to inspire.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    Not MY Mr.March!

    While I can appreciate the author's desire to write a Civil War book from a unique angle, I feel Geraldine Brooks did not study her literary research carefully enough. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about Louisa May Alcott, having read all of her works (Little Women repeatedly) and books concerning her life. Therefore, I approached Ms. Brooks' March with interest, seeking to find what Mr. March, the father of Little Women, might have done during his stint in the Civil War. From the first, though, I kept thinking: who is she writing about? Having Mr. March gush about his first meetings with Marmee (mentioning her gorgeous voice, although she never notably sang in Little Women) was too much. Suddenly Marmee had this wild temper and was politically involved in major issues of the day. Louisa May Alcott always presented Marmee in a light of quiet wisdom--yes, she told Jo she had had her own wild streak, but one had the feeling it had long been assimilated into a more constructive form. Ms. Brooks also seems to have borrowed heavily from Bronson Alcott (Louisa's actual father) for her portrayal of Mr. March. L.M Alcott, on the other hand, tempered the depiction of her Little Women's father with intelligence: Mr. March was a respected, wise man. But in Ms. Brooks' rendition, he seems to have been taken over by a demon striving for a best-seller.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2007

    Falls very short...

    The premise of this book is amazing itself, but in Brooks' hands, it was ruined. Instead of writing a book as a continuation of Little Women, Brooks destroyed the characters I so love from the literary classic. Marmee is everything in March that she is not in Little Women Brooks would have done better to just create a new woman all together. There were several repetitive passages as well. I often felt like I had just read what I was reading. Frankly, Brooks promises much more than she delivers.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    I gave this book a four because it held my attention throughout

    I gave this book a four because it held my attention throughout the book; I don't know if it
    is a "great book".

    The aspect of the civil war this book focuses on is race relations during the Civil War. All the Marches
    are shown as being highly committed abolitionists

    In real life while she was an abolitionist, Louisa May Alcott (and her mother) did not share
     Bronson Alcott’s (Louisa May Alcott's father) idealistic view of the world.    
    The Alcott women in real life felt that Bronson Alcott should have been a better provider to the family
     rather than working to change the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    For history lovers like me, those who want to be transported in

    For history lovers like me, those who want to be transported in time to truly sense the intensity and dynamics of the U.S. civil war, this is a brilliant book, one of Brooks' very best, similar in heartbreaking detail to 'A Year of Wonders'.

    High points for me are the detail around the actual treatment of slaves, a rich inter-racial love story that effectively re-interprets the deepest meaning of freedom, and the condition of early hospitals/medicine at the time, all combined to make this a great, riveting and educational read. Five shining bright stars and a big thank you, as always, to Geraldine Brooks.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    Intriguing

    "March" is an intriguing book. I did not read "Little Women", but had some knowledge of the book before I read "March". This book definitely stands on its own. I thought the book was very interesting. I loved the underground railroad parts of it, as it really brought to light something that is not written about very much. Geraldine Brooks offers nice characters. I enjoyed the writing & certainly would recommend this book to anybody, regardless of whether they have read "Little Women" or not.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    If you are a fan of Little Women you may find this interesting

    This book was an easy read and gives you a different view of the March family. The father of the girls certainly is an interesting man.

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  • Posted August 31, 2012

    Well written, creative, good historical fiction.

    The author's quite innovative for giving readers the story of Mr. March from Little Women. She did a wonderful job developing his character and bringing him to life. The story is well written and discusses many subjects. There's the anti-slavery movement, living your life on ideals, and the mental and physical effects of war. Through Mr. March's eyes, we see his changes so vividly and feel like we're there with him. It was a fast and enjoyable read, although I find myself not loving Mr. March; I felt empathy and compassion, but his character just didn't do it for me. I found the supporting characters more worthwhile and captivating. Therefore, it was a very good, well written, interesting novel but not a great one.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    Calling all Louisa May Alcott fans! Introducing Mr. March!

    I always wanted to know more about the father in "Little Women" and what happened to him during his time as a civil war chaplain! Did not know that this is the book I was dreaming about, but mighty pleased to accidentally 'find' it as I looked for books by author Geraldine Brooks... Very imaginative and gives tremendous depth to an old childhood staple of mine. It's like having a party with your favorites again, on an adult scale. Perhaps I'll reread "Little Women" with an eye to fresh insight into Marmee, Amy, Beth, Jo, Meg and (even!) Aunt March. Well-researched re Civil War era, medicine and probable battlefield experiences. Recommend all Geraldine Brooks' books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    I just finished this book, on a recommendation and as I am total

    I just finished this book, on a recommendation and as I am totally in my "historical fiction" phase could not wait to get it. I found it somewhat thought provoking, liking the realistic portrayal of motives of people in war time. However, my overall reaction was that it was pretentious, presumptuous, and repetitive. I was disappointed. If you are going to write a novel covering such an intense period of our history, allow it to be real, as in non-fiction, or write it as fiction altogether. Not only did throwing in names of famous authors and historical figures distract from the fictional story, but then to write it as a lean-to to Little Women, changing those characters was unnecessary. Even basing it loosely on LM Alcotts father was silly. Write it as non fiction, or create a whole new character.

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