March by Geraldine Brooks - 304 pages
The book imagines the Civil War experiences of Mr. March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. An idealistic Concord cleric, March becomes a Union chaplain and later finds himself assigned to be a teacher on a cotton plantation that employs freed slaves, or "contraband." His narrative begins with cheerful letters home, but March gradually reveals to the reader what he does not to his family: the cruelty and racism of Northern and Southern soldiers, the violence and suffering he is powerless to prevent and his reunion with Grace, a beautiful, educated slave whom he met years earlier as a Connecticut peddler to the plantations. In between, we learn of March's earlier life: his whirlwind courtship of quick-tempered Marmee, his friendship with Emerson and Thoreau and the surprising cause of his family's genteel poverty. When a Confederate attack on the contraband farm lands March in a Washington hospital, sick with fever and guilt, the first-person narrative switches to Marmee, who describes a different version of the years past and an agonized reaction to the truth she uncovers about her husband's life.
My Review: 5 stars
Year Of Wonders (Geraldine Brooks, 2001) was a book that stole my heart not only with it’s storyline but with the words that this remarkable author used to tell her tale. It took me a while to pick up March but thankfully I finally did. This book was a phenomenal tale told in two voices from the fictionalized tale of Mr. March from Little Women. Feeling the characters longing, physical pains, betrayal and a myriad of other emotions were so well expressed that this short little book were at times taxing on my own emotions. An interesting take on the Civil War, slavery and the toll it took on the families, the soldiers and everyone else.
Quotes I liked:
-“The brave man, the real hero, quakes with terror, sweats, feels his very bowels betray him, and in spite of this moves forward to do the act he dreads.”
-“For to know a man's library is, in some measure, to know his mind.”
-”We married each other that night, there on a bed of fallen pine needles-even today, the scent of pitch-pine stirs me-with Henry's distant flute for a wedding march and the arching white birch boughs for our basilica. At first, she quivered like an aspen, and I was ashamed at my lack of continence, yet I could not let go of her. I felt like Peleus on the beach, clinging to Thetis, only to find that, suddenly, it was she who held me; that same furnace in her nature that had flared up in anger blazed again, in passion.”
Tags: Historical Fiction, Slavery, Civil War, 2008
Labels: 2008, Civil War, Historical Fiction, Slavery