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This is the story of Mr March, the father of the girls from Little Women (Louisa May Alcott’s book). In Little Women he goes away to fight in the American Civil War, and this book details his experiences there.

I found it a difficult read due to the details of the brutality shown to slaves at that time. I didn’t really know much about the American Civil War or about what a slave’s life was like, and I found it shocking and upsetting to learn about and difficult to comprehend that such atrocities could happen a relatively short time ago.

I liked the character of Mr March and admired his ideals, he also seemed very realistic in the mistakes and judgements he sometimes made and in the way he felt guilty about the people he couldn’t help. He is a very educated and thoughtful man and wrote very detailed and considered letters to his family, although he faced the difficulty of concealing from them the horrors he faced. I thought the author wrote extremely sensitively and accurately about Mr March’s feelings of guilt that he had survived battles and hadn’t manage to save others and how these feelings were overwhelming him.

I also felt Mr and Mrs March’s relationship was very realistic, especially in the way that they tried to do what they believed the other one wanted and yet often completely misunderstood one another.

Towards the end of the book the reader sees things from Mrs March’s perspective and I thought this was particularly interesting as we had previously only seen things from Mr March’s perspective. I found Mrs March’s despair at her husband’s frailty very moving and admired her determination to be strong for him and to encourage him to overcome his depression and guilt and to will him to aim to return to his family.

I was a little apprehensive about reading this book as I am usually suspicious of sequels or adaptations of classic books, but this book was extremely well done and didn’t tamper with the original. I found this a very powerful, and often disturbing, read; one I wouldn’t really want to read again as it was upsetting but one that I felt I did need to read in order to learn more about this period in history.