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Listening to the Silence

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March

March - Geraldine Brooks 3.5 Stars, rounded to 3

While Little Women tells the life of a mother and her daughters living on the periphery of war, March tells the story of man engulfed in it. A radical who doesn't just preach his convictions, but lives them, March feels it is his duty to join the young men of Concord as they march off to the Civil War. War however is so much more than he ever expected, and by the end, he returns home broken not just in body, but also in spirit, a changed man who will never again be able to find comfort in his home or family.

I thought this book was exceptionally well-written. I thoroughly enjoyed the character of March, and felt that a book from his point-of-view adds a whole new dimension to Little Women, a childhood favorite. What I didn't like was all of the name-dropping. It seems entirely unrealistic that he would know and be involved with so many famous people, from Thoreau to Emerson to John Brown and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and that only touches on the number of luminaries with which March was intimate. The fact that in the afterward, Brooks reveals that she based March upon the life of Alcott's own father, Bronson Alcott, and he did in fact know all of these men, soothed that annoyance somewhat. I think had I known this information from the beginning, my enjoyment of the novel would have greatly improved. In the end, this was a solid book, and I will give this author another try.