Sunday, July 12, 2009

What I'm Reading: March

Geraldine Brooks's imagining of what the March father was up to while Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy muddled along in Concord.

Her language is so beautiful. I felt a little pang reading it, because when I originally set out to write historical romance, part of the attraction was the idea of writing in this kind of formal, elaborate language. Then of course I got serious about market research and discovered that hist-rom, these days, is written with sentence fragments, lots of contractions, and other vaguely anachronistic things like the liberal use of sarcasm.

I don't mind that. It's fun to write. But when I come across something like March, written in language that seems really true to the period, I do get a bit wistful.

Anyway it's the best book I've read in a while. Liberal deployment of shame, which always makes me happy, and lots of complex, tangled motivations for major and minor characters. Plus she digs into a theme that I like to visit in my own writing: miscommunication. How an exchange between two people can be understood in radically opposite ("opposite" shouldn't need a modifier, should it? Things are either opposite, or not opposite. There's no "mildly" opposite.) ways.

I'd read Brooks's nonfiction before, but never her fiction. Now I'll have to look up Year of Wonders.

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