”March” begins with the premise of what happens to Mr. March, when he leaves his little women and goes off to do his part in the Civil War? Mr. March is of course the absent father in Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” but “March” is a very different story than its point of inspiration.
“March” is about a man of war, fighting not only the enemy, but his own past and principles. Mr. March serves as a chaplain and later he is appointed to a plantation where he serves as a teacher for the newly freed slaves. Equality. Pacifism. Vegetarianism. The right to education. These are some of the principles that Mr. March tries to bring forth.
It is however, the more private Mr. March, I find interesting. He is the self-made man, who loses his fortune. He feels guilty about not being able to provide for his wife and girls the way he wants to. He struggles with his past and an encounter with a slave woman, and he berates himself for not being able to tell the whole truth in his letters home.
The dualism between the abstract principles and the man is beautifully written in “March”. So while I picked up the book due to its connection to “Little Women” and being written by Geraldine Brooks, “March” is a masterpiece that does not need introduction or teasers.
A final facet I would like to comment is the style of writing. “March” is primarily narrated by Mr. March in the tone of voice and vocabulary of the Civil War era. This is definitely part of the masterpiece.
I would recommend “March” to fans of Geraldine Brooks, historical fiction, and the Civil War. I would follow the recommendation with a caveat. “March” is not a gumdrop that you can shallow whole. It is to be read and mused over.