A Novel

Book - 2004
Average Rating:
Rate this:
As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the 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. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.

From Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women , Geraldine Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, March, who has gone off to war, leaving his wife and daughters to make do in mean times. To evoke him, Brooks turned to the journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father—a friend and confidant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In her telling, March emerges as an idealistic chaplain in the little known backwaters of a war that will test his faith in himself and in the Union cause as he learns that his side, too, is capable of acts of barbarism and racism. As he recovers from a near mortal illness, he must reassemble his shattered mind and body and find a way to reconnect with a wife and daughters who have no idea of the ordeals he has been through.

Spanning the vibrant intellectual world of Concord and the sensuous antebellum South, March adds adult resonance to Alcott’s optimistic children’s tale to portray the moral complexity of war, and a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism—and by a dangerous and illicit attraction. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks’s place as an internationally renowned author of historical fiction.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2004.
ISBN: 9780670033355
Characteristics: 280 p. ;,24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jul 21, 2019

Brooks is truly a special talent. Once again, she takes the historical fiction genre and elevates it to something unique and superior. This is the story of Peter March, the father from Little Women, who is serving as chaplain in the Union Army during the Civil War. It took me a little while to get into the story; I had to give myself permission to dislike the main character before I could really be captivated. As a Little Women fan, I had expected to admire Mr. March, but he was an extremely faulty and (forgive the overused adjective) clueless dolt, who very often did much more harm than good with his cotton-headed views of good works and morality. Brooks' incredibly evocative prose, superior character development, and keen sense of place were all, as usual, extremely fine. When I pick up a book by her, I know I'm in very good hands. That all said, however, I had more admiration than affection for this book and it was not a particularly pleasurable read for me.

May 19, 2019

If you are a fan of Little Woman you need to read this book. It tells the story of Mr. March who joined the Union Army as a chaplain. Readers will find the afterword vey important because in this the author tells how she based the character of March on Louisa May Alcott’s father. She shares where she deviated from the facts. If you are considering handing this to a young Jo March fan, read the book first. Life on a battle front is much different than life in Massachusetts. I came away feeling that March was a likable character, sort of a early Jimmy Carter, in his strong moral views and his need to make things right.

Apr 09, 2019

4 1/2 star read. This book won the Pulitzer Prize and was a Richard and Judy Book Club selection and it's taken me a while to get to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Brooks has taken her inspiration from the book "Little Women" about the women of the March family and has written a story about Mr. March, who went off to be a chaplain in the Civil War. Basing his story partly on the journals and letters of Louisa May Alcott's father, Brooks weaves a fascinating tale of a man's journey to do the right thing. From his early days as a traveling salesman to his time as chaplain in the Civil War, the idealistic Mr. March tries to be a good man, but his high standards have him believing that he has failed everyone. War tests his faith in himself and March feels he lacks courage when tested. This was a very interesting read and Brooks is a very good storyteller as she kept this reader interested until the end.

Feb 17, 2019

Civil War book, to go with Little Women

OPL_BethS Feb 06, 2019

Historical fiction from the point of view of Mr. March (the father) in Little Women. It follows his journey as a chaplain during the Civil War and offers an interesting perspective and insight into the lives of the beloved Little Women characters.

Jul 31, 2018

An okay novel. I read this like eight years ago and the main thing I remember is that the MC could have been a little less weak. But some good historical stuff and perspective on issues I've never read before.

Jul 27, 2018

This book lead me to circumnavigate the foreign country called, The State of Mississippi.

RogerDeBlanck Jul 24, 2018

With her thoroughly engaging novel March, Brooks achieves a tremendous feat of imagination. She has taken the largely absent father of Mr. March in Alcott’s classic Little Women and explored his trials during the Civil War. March’s odyssey exposes him to the carnage of battle and also the harrowing institutional practices of slavery in the South. Using the voice of both March in the first part of the novel and his wife Marmee in the second, Brooks does an extraordinary job of investing you in the atmosphere of the era. Her language is rich and moving, and she pulls off with seamless precision the interplay between the past and present to provide backstory. She counters horrifying images of war with gorgeous descriptions of the countryside and scenes capturing the dalliances of romance. Her blistering discussions of the cruelty of slavery’s institution give the novel a political edge. Her characterizations of famous historical figures such as Thoreau and Emerson were wonderfully captivating. March is an outstanding historical novel that had me engrossed with the allure of every memorable detail. It is an immersive and compulsive reading experience.

Aug 16, 2017

As I was about 100 pages into this book I was thinking I'd give it three stars, tops. But that all changed as the characters became more entwined and propelled me towards an AMAZING ending.
Only criticism: the author has a habit of telling a story backwards, meaning you feel like you missed something and then after a few pages she'd fill you in on the back story. If she followed a consistent timeline the story would have flowed better.

Jul 20, 2016

Love Geraldine Brooks

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Mar 02, 2011

tessyjay thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top