Published by Penguin on January 31, 2006
Genres: Historical Fiction
Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction. From the author of the acclaimed YEAR OF WONDERS, an historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe, on the front lines of the American Civil War. Acclaimed author Geraldine Brooks gives us the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women - and conjures a world of brutality, stubborn courage and transcendent love. An idealistic abolitionist, March has gone as chaplain to serve the Union cause. But the war tests his faith not only in the Union - which is also capable of barbarism and racism - but in himself. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness, March must reassemble and reconnect with his family, who have no idea of what he has endured. A love story set in a time of catastrophe, March explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief.
March is split in two, half being memories of years gone by, remembering the courting of Marmee, the births of their children and the March’s beliefs on slavery, even becoming conductors on the underground railroad. By putting their money where their mouth is, give a large sum of money to a fellow abolitionist to support the cause, but, unfortunately, the deal goes sour leading to the March’s financial decline.
The second part brings us to Mr. March’s hellish present while teaching those on a cotton plantation who are willing to read and write he is reminded of Grace, another educated slave that he had an intimate relationship with and the physical humiliation she received when taking the blame for a young slave girl who he was teaching to read and write as well. The tale climaxes at a raid from the Confederates, resulting in the murder of black and white by beheading and gunshots and the recapture of freed slaves to be sold back into slavery. Meanwhile, March scrapes by with the grazing of a bullet and soon after returns home to his girls but is still, and forever haunted by the gruesome events he has witnessed.