For August, I’m participating in Read My Own Books Month, hosted by Michelle at That’s What She Read.
March by Geraldine Brooks
Narrator: Richard Easton
Source: I’m not sure. It’s been on my TBR shelf for a few years.
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Awards: 2006 Pulitzer Prize for fiction
Synopsis (from the product description): From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story “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). With “pitch-perfect writing” (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs.
Overall Impression: When I was at grad school in Boston, I took a travel writing class. Our class was divided into thirds, and each third wrote a travel guide to an iconic Massachusetts town: Salem, Plymouth, and Concord. Our group selected Concord, home of “All The Transcendentalist Writers Ever (and Gregory Maguire)” and decided to create an “Author A Day” guide. Spend a day with Thoreau, Emerson, or Hawthorne, exploring their homes and their favorite locations around Concord. Great idea, right? We were brilliant. My authors were Louisa May Alcott and her father Bronson Alcott. My more intimate knowledge that I gained of these two writers during that project really informed this book for me, and I think I enjoyed it more than I would have without that background.
I immediately recognized Mr. March as the odd Bronson Alcott — vegetarian, abolitionist, utopia-builder, and kindergarten-and-recess-inventor. I thought it was a smart choice of Brooks to model March after Alcott, especially considering Louisa May Alcott modeled the March sisters after herself and her sisters. It also gave her a solid base on which to build the character and the plot, both of which I thought were very good. The plot wrestled with many (maybe too many?) different issues: slavery, incest, affairs, murder, love, abolition, child-rearing, sacrifice, war, plantations, healthcare, and all sorts of other things. But it’s all wound into a beautiful story that, for the most part, remains true (although less idealistic) to Little Women.
Narration: Richard Easton did a lovely job during the portion of the book narrated by Mr. March, though there are a handful of chapters toward the end narrated by Marmee…and his voice didn’t change a bit. A big gruff voice on such a woman was…tragic. Other than that, it was excellent narration.
Positives: Lovely portrait of the absent Mr. March, and his struggles while he was away from his family.
Negatives: Sometimes I thought March’s internal dialogue and thoughts were too feminine. I think he sometimes thought things that men just don’t think about.
Other books I’ve read by Geraldine Brooks: none
Other books I’ve listened to narrated by Richard Easton: none
Other blogger opinions:
Devourer of Books: “Although some parts of March were so Bronson that I didn’t feel they quite fit into Little Women, I still really enjoyed where Brooks took the story. Recommended.”
Small World Reads: “There’s a reason Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer for March. Highly recommended, even if you’ve never read Little Women. “
Fat Books and Thin Women: “…Brooks tries to paint with too broad a brush, to encompass too many aspects of the war and life during and before the Civil War.”