Reading Little Women and March simultaneously

For the longest time I have avoided reading March by Geraldine Brooks. I just wasn’t interested in Mr. March and had had my fill of Bronson Alcott. March, however, is enjoying tremendous popularity right now due to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

I subscribe to different key words on Google to keep with with all things Louisa and March came up again and again … and again! I felt like I was being sent a message – “Read this book!” and so I decided to dive in.

It seems like a great book to read alongside Little Women.

So far I am finding the writing to be powerful. I am also very glad I did the background reading (and writing) on Bronson Alcott because already I recognize much of what I read about his history in Mr. March. (If you want to see what I’ve written on Bronson, click here for a list of posts).

Although all of the articles I’ve read online have raved about March, there were several very critical reviews on Amazon.

I just plan to go with the flow on this one. I do love reading about the Civil War and have a wonderful Civil War Atlas that I will read along with these two books.

It should make for some rich discussion. 🙂


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8 Replies to “Reading Little Women and March simultaneously”

  1. I’ve been avoiding this for all the reasons you mention. Bronson Alcott’s unwillingness to earn a living and actually WORK drive me batty…but I think I will read it. Brooks was a really good commentator on the American Masters doco about LMA.

  2. I didn’t make it through March. It was just too graphic, and I didn’t find it that compelling, either as insight into Bronson or as pure fiction in the Little Women universe. Eventually I gave up.

    Actually, the only Little Women/LMA-related fiction that I have enjoyed was The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. I thought that one really captured LMA as I think of her, and was enjoyable as a stand-alone story. I could tell that the author had really done a lot of research on LMA, and made an effort to show her spirit and the world in which she lived.

    1. I’m glad I did the background reading in John Matteson’s book as he made Bronson a more sympathetic (though no less complicated) character. I agree about the graphic nature of it – I’ll have to skim those parts!

      I loved *Lost Summer*! That was the book that began the reading binge two years ago that led to Harriet Reisen’s book that led to this blog! 🙂 I just don’t buy where Louisa and Joseph’s relationship went. But the ending made up for it.

      I also loved *Little Women Letters* by Gabrielle Donnelly. Best dialog I’ve ever read (from my neophyte writing student point of view). 🙂

      It’s incredibly risky writing fan fiction, though lucrative if you’re successful.

  3. I found the story in MARCH powerful, but couldn’t believe it was actually about Mr. March. It was too much about Bronson Alcott. I also couldn’t believe that Brooks had read LITTLE WOMEN that closely. At one point he says Beth is sickly. This was before Beth got sick. There was nothing wrong with Beth previous to the scarlet fever. She was just shy! And the idea that Mrs. March is “Marmee” because it’s short for “Margaret Marie” was ludicrous. The girls wouldn’t call their mother by her nickname! Anyone who has heard someone with a strong New England accent pronounce “Mommy” will understand where “Marmee” came from.

    As for Bronson, there are times I wished I could grab him by the collar and shake some sense into him.

    1. Oh Brooks read Little Women but like so many others, she obviously walked away remembering poor Beth as only being sickly and dying. Louisa may have done too good a job in depicting Beth’s illness and death. Unfortunately, no one ever remembers the courageous act that LED to Beth’s illness and death! It’s beginning to irritate me that Beth’s goodness is so downplayed. I’m guessing that Louisa would be dismayed as well to see her sister remembered only as “sickly.”

      I saw comments like yours on Amazon too and I’m glad I did because I’ve made the decision to try and suspend belief and just read it for the story alone. I’m hoping that comparisons to Little Women will not dampen it. Although it surprises me considering the enormity of the fans (and their deep knowledge of the story) that Brooks would “play” with the story like that. Sounds like she was playing with fire. But perhaps she meant to be provocative. I’ve only read two chapters so far but it’s obvious from chapter 2 that she very much MEANT to be provocative. Chapter 2 reminded me of that episode in Roots where Kizzy and Missy Anne were friends but Kizzy was sold off and Missy Anne didn’t protect her as she promised. A very haunting episode. I watched it again yesterday on YouTube after I read chapter 2 of March. And I never thought of Sandy Duncan the same way again. 🙂

  4. My mom read this for a book club. I don’t think she liked it all that much. She told me about it and it doesn’t sound like something I’d like. Inconsistencies like Beth being sickly would drive me crazy!

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