Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quick Review: March, by Geraldine Brooks

I read this for school originally, because I (perhaps unwisely) decided to teach this based on the recommendations of others before I actually read it. For a while I was worried. I had a hard time connecting with March's voice--he's so proper and civilized and idealistic that he almost seemed unreal. About a third of the way through the book, however, it clicked. March's idealism isn't just a sign of his goodness; it's also a sign of his failure. He can't live up to the picture-perfect image created in Alcott's Little Women or in his own mind. He wants to be the man his daughters think he is. He wants to be that image of goodness. And suddenly, I felt that connection that elevates a book from interesting to moving to powerful. Who hasn't at some point felt the spirit willing but the flesh weak? Who hasn't failed to live up to their own ideals at one point or another? That tension, as well as the series of events March encounters in the Civil War, provide a compelling force that drive the novel forward. By the end, when (Possible Spoiler Alert) the narrative switches to Marmee's narration, the book is not just a clever retelling of Alcott's classic; it's also a complex examination of relationships, of psychological shortcomings, and of the painful cost of war. A-

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