What drew me to this book was 1. I loved the concept of taking fictional characters and placing them in new situations 2. I really enjoy Geraldine Brooks’ writing style (LOVED People of the Book) 3. I wanted to hear more from the “Little Women” and 4. the price was right (it was a Powell’s find!!).
Overall i enjoyed it… the story is a fictional account of what Mr. March, the absent patriarch of the 1868 novel Little Women, was doing while he was away serving in the Union Army as a chaplain during the Civil War. As the Brooks’ explained in the Afterward, she loosely based her interpretation of Peter March on Louisa May Alcott’s father, Bronson who was a “transcendentalist philosopher, educator and abolitionist”.
Mr. March was not the most loveable character– hardly worthy of the high pedestal he is placed on by his beloved daughters– but he does try to be a good and just person. He is a bit too preachy for my liking and perhaps a bit toooooo modern in his thinking, but the great writing allows you feel his struggle as he realizes he has bit off more than he can chew by joining the army in his 30s while his family struggles at home. He totally sees himself as a flawed character and you feel that his “survivor’s guilt” at the end is justified.
Part Two brought Marmee’s voice to the story but i thought she was WAY too bitter, jealous and shrew-like. i pictured her constantly frowning which is hardly the way she was portrayed in Little Women. Marmee is nothing more than serene, wise and proper– I prefer Alcott’s version and that is how i will always think of her!!