This is the first book I read by Geraldine Brooks. I picked it up because of a challenge I participated in, where I was asked to read a book about a war in which America participated.
*Possible Spoiler Warning*
The book is set during the Civil War in America and is build on the back of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Mr. March decides to fight for the freeing of the slaves despite his advanced age. He leaves back his family to become an army chaplain. What he experiences he writes down in letters to his family although he dares not to tell the truth as it would worry his daughters and wife. The reader gets to know the real Mr. March, his feelings, his past and his present. Later he gets wounded while trying to free some former slaves, his fosterlings or pupils, from a new slavery. He is sent to a hospital in Washington and when he has recovered he is sent home.
Back in the bosom of his family he can be found broken as most war veterans with a feeling he has not done everything that stood in his powers.
The book reveals the truth about Mr. March as a character as well as Marmee. Tragically their relationship contains some misunderstandings between husband and wife. Only one example is that Mr. March donated a big fortune to a man with revolutionary ideas to free the slaves which did not turn out, because he thought this would make him more noble in the eyes of his wife, who adored the man who got the money. But Marmee would have never wanted to give all their money to a man and his ideas if this would lead her family in poverty and sometimes she feels this new poor live to be an imposition although she would never complain about the actions of her husband. I would call this a big misunderstanding and lack of communication.
*End of Spoilers*
Marmee becomes like a real character now due to Brooks' work. She sometimes looses her temper (a character flaw which adds to it) and when facing a female rival who stands in the favor of her husband she is not afraid to take actions. This all turns out near the end end when Brooks' inserts Marmee as narrator. For me that also shows Brooks' writing skills. She did not only manage to use the right tone for a book set during Civil War based on a famous novel, she also knows how to use her (or Alcott's?) characters to speak for themselves.
All that and more makes this book worth ★ ★ ★ ★ ★!