Sunday, October 19, 2008

March by Geraldine Brooks

In reading Little Women, I never really gave much thought to Mr. March and his experiences as a chaplain in the Civil War. (In fact, when I read it at a much younger age, I didn't even know it was during the Civil War!) This 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner gives us a chronicle of what his experiences might have been, and the realities of war that he does not write about in his letters home. A lot of his experiences are based on Louisa May Alcott's father, a transcendentalist who rubbed shoulders with Emerson and Thoreau. March encounters racism, both from Northerners and Southerners, and other cruelty that he struggles to take action against, but fails. We learn in flashbacks about his courtship with Marmee (and learn where Jo gets her temper from!) and why the family has become so poor.
The best word I can use to describe this "listen" is "interesting." It didn't grab me in any way, it was just "interesting" to see the different perspectives of various individuals and groups during the Civil War. I like to meet famous people in works of fiction and experience what a conversation with them would be like, and there are a few instances of this in this book. The books I love usually fit into one of two catergories--great storytelling or great writing. Occasionally a book fits into both. March didn't fit into either one for me, but I don't regret reading it, if that makes sense.

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