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Wow! What a terrific book this is!
As you probably know, this is Geraldine Brooks' imagining of the father's year away from his "Little Women", and what a complete, compelling, thought- provoking imagining it is. Brooks has based the character of March largely on Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa May and one of the great intellectuals of 19th century Transcendentalism. As we travel with March through his Civil War experience, we also experience his reminiscences of his courtship of Marmee (she is wonderfully imagined also, much more fully than the rather one-dimensional saintly mother of the Little Women), the rich intellectual life of the Concord of Emerson & Thoreau, and his heroic wrestling with issues of war, morality, race, faith, and family.
I chose this selection because I've also been reading the Transcendentalists, and found it to be a wonderful piece of storytelling.
The narration, by Richard Easton, is first rate as well. Movie buffs may recognize Easton's name and voice, notably from Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" and "Dead Again". Easton's diction is beautiful, characterizations and dialects vivid.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
Geraldine Brooks extends the reach of the American classic, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, by following one of its invisible characters, John March, the girls’ father, through a slice of the Civil War. This book, based on thorough research into the economics & culture of the period, also features flashbacks to embryonic capitalism, the slave economy & the abolition movement of the 1840s & 1850s. Brooks accurately portrays the sometimes crackpot, fringe nature of northern abolitionism before the war, as well as its tinge of racism, in a way that could help educate the often ahistorical views of the movement in contemporary texts. John March, as a character, is able to grow by experience. He moves from an eccentric, idealistic & sometimes irritating character, to a sympathetic yet battle-hardened individual by the end of the book. The outstanding prose & plot development of the book allows the open-minded reader to grow as John March grows. As an added bonus, Brooks provides an author’s note at the end of the book, and of the audiobook, that discusses her sources & methods of translating primary materials of the time into the fabric of the novel.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful