Saturday, March 31, 2007

Marching on

As previously noted, I loved Little Women as a kid. So when I finally got around to reading Geraldine Brooks' Pulitzer-Prize-winning March, about the absent Mr. March serving as chaplain in the Union Army, I was excited to have a "grown-up" read of a favorite story. I was more than a little disappointed. Maybe it's something about having won an exalted award that got my hopes up. Granted, Brooks did model Mr. March more after Louisa's own father, Bronson Alcott, who was a bit of a Transcendentalist wacko. Brooks is a fine enough writer but her character was insufferable--haughty, self-righteous, patronizing, and verbose in a 19th century sentimental novel way. Plus, he really doesn't like Calvinists. The story Brooks creates for him, while imaginative, didn't resonate with me either; it seemed too far-fetched, too romantic. However, his conflict in being in a war with principles he admires while simultaneously denouncing the means to enforce those principles was contemporary and Brooks managed to portray that connection with current issues without banging it in our heads.

The best part of the novel comes when the narration switches to Mrs. March (dear Marmee). Her voice is strong and more genuine, a refreshing change from March's pomposity. So in the end the best part of Little Women is the women. Except for Laurie, of course. I always thought he was dreamy.

1 comment:

Goes On Runs said...

i always thought the same about Laurie....only weird that it is my sister's name as well.