Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's tough being disillusioned

This is not the man I imagined.
That's all I kept thinking as I read "March" by Geraldine Brooks.
Brooks chronicles the experiences of Mr. March, father to Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, husband of Marmee, largely absent character in one of my favorite works, Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women."
Perhaps that's the heart of the issue. If I hadn't felt such a connection to Alcott's characters maybe I wouldn't have been so bothered by the actions of Brooks'.
None of this is a knock against Brooks as a writer.  (More a knock against me as a reader!)  "March" won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize, and I can understand why.
Brooks paints a portrait of a complex man facing his own struggles as best he can.
Check out the readers guide here.
Does he give in to temptation when away from his wife? Does he have the courage to stop the torture of another? Does he have the fortitude to put his beliefs into action?
As he asks himself:
"And now, a year has passed since I undertook to go to war, and I wake every day, sweating, in the solitude of the seed store at Oak Landing, to a condition of uncertainty. More than months, more than miles, now stand between me and that passionate orator perched on his tree-stump pulpit. One day, I hope to go back. To my wife, to my girls, but also to the man of moral certainty that I was that day; that innocent man, who knew with such clear confidence exactly what it was he was meant to do."
But I couldn't stop thinking about what those Little Women were doing at home while March was facing his personal demons.And it was making me angry!
For me at least, favorite characters are best left alone. An author has crafted a moment in time, a chapter of someone's life if you will. A reader forms opinions and is left with perceptions and who wants those illusions to be dispelled?
Not me.

- Tricia Ambrose

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