By Geraldine Brooks (2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction)

ReViewed by Luan Morley

March tells the story that Louisa May Alcott only hinted at in her classic, Little Women. This is the story of Mr March, the father of the ‘little women’; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.

The novel traces March’s life as he goes from an enterprising peddler who makes his fortune (and then loses it again), his life with his beloved Marmee and their children, and his experiences during the Civil War.

The bulk of the story is told through the letters that March writes from the front, to his wife and children back in Concord, Massachusetts.

As an idealistic chaplain and abolitionist, March meets a number of characters who test his faith in humanity and in God.

The actions of the Union and Confederate soldiers are equally detestable, yet at times desperate. War is nasty and cruel but the real tragedy for Brooks’ characters is that theyare sacrificed to its cause  despite not subscribing to its ideology.

I started reading March months ago but didn’t managed to finish it until now. The reason is fairly simple; I was spoilt by Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing and found this one lacking when I compared the two. That’s not to say that March isn’t a well written book, it just doesn’t have that addictive quality that I found within her later novel.

The storyline in March is fairly slow paced and I did gloss over certain chapters. However, to give credit where it is due, every one of Brook’s characters are well rounded and real. None of the characters, even those who commit horrible crimes or seem to act under cruel intentions, are pigeon-holed. Not even Mr. March is clear cut.

Like in life, every person has justifications for their actions. Rarely are people evil for the sake of it and it is this depth of character that makes March stand above the average read. Like in her other novels, Brooks has thoroughly researched the events and characters that appear in March creating a novel grounded in reality, with all its shades of grey.

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