9780143036661

MARCH

Geraldine Brooks

As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the Civil War, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history by the author of the international bestseller Year of Wonders.

From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father,

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As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the Civil War, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history by the author of the international bestseller Year of Wonders.

From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, Mr. March, who has gone off to war leaving his wife and daughters to make do in mean times. To evoke his voice, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In Brooks’s telling, Mr. March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body, and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.

Spanning the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale and portrays the moral complexity of war and a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism and by the temptations of a powerful forbidden attraction. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as a renowned author of historical fiction.

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Paperback

Price: $14.00

ISBN: 9780143036661

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About Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks is the author of Year of Wonders and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Previously, Brooks was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in Bosnia, Somalia, and the Middle East. Born and raised in Australia, she lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz, and their son.

Praise

“Filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man.” –Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees

“Harrowing and moving … March casts a spell that lasts much longer than the reading of it.”
–Karen Joy Fowler,
The Washington Post

“A beautifully wrought story about how war dashes ideals, unhinges moral certainties and drives a wedge of bitter experience and unspeakable memories between husband and wife.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Louisa May Alcott would be well pleased.” –The Economist

Discussion Questions

Throughout the novel, March and Marmee, although devoted to one another, seem to misunderstand each other quite a bit and often do not tell each other the complete truth. Discuss examples of where this happens and how things may have turned out differently, for better or worse, had they been completely honest. Are there times when it is best not to tell our loved ones the truth?

The causes of the American Civil War were multiple and overlapping. What was your opinion of the war when you first came to the novel, and has it changed at all since reading March?

March’s relationships with both Marmee and Grace are pivotal in his life. Discuss the differences between these two relationships and how they help to shape March, his worldview, and his future. What other people and events were pivotal in shaping March’s beliefs?

Do you think it was the right decision for March to have supported, financially or morally, the northern abolitionist John Brown? Brown’s tactics were controversial, but did the ends justify the means?

“If war can ever be said to be just, then this war is so; it is action for a moral cause, with the most rigorous of intellectual underpinnings. And yet everywhere I turn, I see injustice done in the waging of it,” says March (p. 65). Do you think that March still believes the war is just by the end of the novel? Why or why not?

What is your opinion of March’s enlisting? Should he have stayed home with his family? How do we decide when to put our principles ahead of our personal obligations?

When Marmee is speaking of her husband’s enlisting in the army, she makes a very eloquent statement: “A sacrifice such as his is called noble by the world. But the world will not help me put back together what war has broken apart” (p. 210). Do her words have resonance in today’s world? How are the people who fight our wars today perceived? Do you think we pay enough attention to the families of those in the military? Have our opinions been influenced at all by the inclusion of women in the military?

The war raged on for several years after March’s return home. How do you imagine he spent those remaining years of the war? How do you think his relationship with Marmee changed? How might it have stayed the same?