For its framework March uses the story of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, but instead of telling us more about the March sisters it focuses on their father, who is absent during most of Alcott's book. In March we follow him as he leaves his family to take up a position as army chaplin for the Union troops, and from there to a cotton farm where he teaches ex-slaves working for a proper wage for the first time.
The timeline of March does flit about a bit, and there are chapters set when Mr March was a young travelling salesman, as well as scenes from his and Marmee's courtship and the early days of their marriage. Marmee's character is very different from the meek woman of Louisa May Alcott's novel, and she even takes up the narration of March for a while, giving the reader a fascinating insight into both sides of the March marriage.
March was a really wonderful surprise; a literary, complex and engaging novel that manages to be original, even though it's based on another book. Four stars.