March by 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.

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Genre: General Fiction

My rating: ★★

I’ve had this book in my to-be-read pile for years now, always picked over because I wanted to get around to re-reading Little Women first. This books gets immediate props for someone finally thinking to tell Mr. March’s side of the story.

The perfect father in absentia in Little Women, who barely exists in the narrative even when he returns home, March is given a much bigger character in this book, and Marmee is too. Neither is the saint their children think them to be … and they are much less likeable once we get to know them better. Despite Marmee’s independence and intelligence, and March’s modern opinions, Marmee no longer seems the equal of her husband, and her husband makes enormous family decisions without her input.

There is no domestic bliss in March, only deliberate lies, a husband and wife who have no idea what the other is thinking, and such extreme war experiences that it seems quite strange that March returns serene and usual to his little women. Brooks has finally told March’s story, but perhaps it was better left unknown.