There were times while reading this book that I looked over at it sitting on my bedside stand and just couldn't pick it up. Sometimes I do that if a book is boring or if the story is making me nervous but this was different. I couldn't pick it up because I felt like I was watching a man being stripped of his pride, his ideals and his belief in humanity.
Book club member Joan said, "I loved the book. It didn't make me sad, but it was sobering. I grew up with a father whom I adored, but he wasn't as successful at negotiating the world as he wanted to be. I guess that's part of the reason the book resonated with me."
For those of you who have not read the book, the basic premise is that it follows Pa' March (who we know from the book Little Women) as he is "away at war." Pa' March, an abolitionist who has been part of the underground railroad goes off to fight in the civil war. He is a minister (being too old for the cavalry) and spends most of his time helping out and teaching the x-slaves to read. I won't give away too much of the story, but the x-plantation he is working on is recaptured. Pa is injured and ill and is sent to a hospital in the North to recover.
As he is starting recovering physically, he questions if he will ever be able to recover mentally. He sees terrible things happen to good people (on a side note, I liked how the book was able to portray terrible things without being too gory). I have since found myself thinking about recovery.
The world breaks all of of us and yet, we recover. We are able to get up in the morning. Our first boyfriend breaks our heart and we're sure that love doesn't exist but we date again. And maybe not to the extent of Pa March but I think we each lose our faith in humanity and remarkably, we come back. We may be a little less trustful, a little more guarded, but we come back.
As Ernest Hemingway said in A Farewell to Arms, “The world breaks us all. Afterward, some are stronger at the broken places.”
So book club, here is the question for March (and the good news is you can answer it even if you didn't read the book)
How do we recover? How do we become stronger at the broken places?
**Just a warning, not all of our book club members liked March. Mary said, "I was so excited to read this, since I love Little Women so much! I was thrilled to think of the possibilities that are gained from seeing the stories through the eyes of Mr. March, their father.
However, I was sorely disappointed. The story was not written in the same spirit or style as the original, which can be expected with a different author. However, the main character did not have the morals and character that you would hope, gleaning from an optimistic book like Little Women."
***Next month we are reading American Pastoral by Philip Roth. First Friday of July. I have no idea what the book is about but it sounds very patriotic doesn't it? Perfect for July.