As a big fan of Geraline Brooks since I first read Year of Wonders my freshman year of college, I eagerly picked this book up with glee. And I was not at all disappointed.
The main character of this story is the husband and father to the females in Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women. While I haven't read that specific classic, I now intend to do just that so that I may have the chance to know the other side of the story; this was in fact the reason why with book was written by Brooks in the first place.
The plot of the story follows Mr. March as he is away from his family and off in the fighting of the Civil War, acting first as a chaplain to the Union soldiers and then as a teacher to the freed slaves on a plantation. There are times when the man recounts bits of his past before he met his wife and how he met her, giving us some much needed insight into the actions taking place later in the book. Much of the story I feel Brooks did a wonderful job of creating from what little she had been given in Alcott's work.
Brooks states in the afterward that this was easy after careful research of her main character. Just as Alcott did before her, Brooks looked to Alcott's own family for the inspiration of the characters, basing Mr. March on Bronson Alcott. Not only was she given new understanding into the life of the famous Alcotts, but also into much of the Civil War, a bit of history she previously found boring. Just like Brooks, I too find myself drawn to know more about the circumstances of that war, the treatment of the contraband (as slaves were called when taken by the Union army), and hardships of everyone invovled in any way from soldiers forced to live with the memories of the terrible things done to the wives such as Marmee who had to sit back and quietly let go of their men, perhaps for good.
I greatly enjoyed this work, as I have other of Brooks' work in the past. While she brings forward the harsh truths of a time we would rather not look closer at, she does so without making you need to put the book down. Instead through all the blood and cruelty I felt compelled to keep moving forward. I look forward to keeping my copy to reread once I get the chance to read Little Women.
That being said somehow I ended up with 2 copies! So for this week's giveaway I have a paperback copy of this great book! And once you get done reading it I would suggest going out to find a copy of Year of Wonders by Brooks to enjoy that as well! Let me know if you would like to lay claim to this great read!