From the desk of Jayda B. Justus:
I am a huge fan of Little Women and read it multiple times as a child and adult, laughing and crying along with the March sisters (and desperately longing for sisters like them!). Marmee is a new novel retelling of the story from the point of view of the sisters mother, Margaret March. Author Sarah Miller has turned the familiar story to focus on how the antics of the sisters and the absence of Mr. March affected Margaret, the saintly mother, and wife who held the family together in the midst of war and near poverty.
A Vulnerable Woman
As she did with Ma from Little House on the Prairie in her novel, Caroline, Miller writes vividly about Marmee’s inner life, from the constant worry about money to the irritations she feels at her children’s foibles. While portrayed by Alcott as the epitome of virtue and patience, Marmee’s thoughts reveal a vulnerable woman on the brink of losing it as she tries to feed her children and take care of the destitute in a time period where the country was falling apart around her. She is real – with petty grievances and a quick temper ever ready to explode mixed with a woman on a mission to show love to the lowliest of society in a tangible way.
The Mental Load of Mothering
I related to Marmee so much (she seems like a fellow enneagram 2 to me!), especially her fears for her children. The constant push and pull of wanting them to be strong and independent yet good citizens, the constant worry about their pride and if they were spoiled while knowing they deserved so much more. The book is truly a study in how women carry the mental load of mothering at all times, no matter the ages or circumstances of their children. Some things never change.
Historical Insights That Women Face During War
This book is a must-read for Little Women fans, but also for historical fiction fans who want to learn more about what women went through on the home front during the Civil War. This topic is one of my favorites in all of history (I even did my college thesis on women’s diaries from the war), and this book is a perfect example of the daily struggles the women in the North endured even though they were hundreds of miles away from the battles.
A Perfect Companion Book to the Original Classic
Marmee, by Sarah Miller, is simply stunning. I have pre-ordered it for my forever shelves as it’s a book I’ll want to revisit in tandem with a reread of Little Women.
5 out of 5 Stars
- “Miller convincingly captures Marmee’s world and offers a bit of insight on the character.”— Publisher’s Weekly
- “Enthralling … In Miller’s admirable hands, Marmee is heart-warming, sometimes heart-rending, but never cloying. Fans of Little Women will love this book almost as much; those who do not care for Alcott’s novel may find in Marmee a far more emotionally complex and satisfying portrait of family love and generosity in a politically realistic setting.”— Historical Novels Review
- “Finally one of literature’s most beloved mother’s gets her moment to shine. Through careful research and charming prose, Sarah Miller’s devotion to Little Women is apparent on every page of this heartwarming novel. Readers may come to Marmee out of nostalgia, but they’ll discover a timely and inspiring novel about a resilient and strong-willed woman navigating a turbulent era to create a better world for her daughters.”— Elise Hooper, author of Angels of the Pacific and The Other Alcott
GUEST REVIEWER BIO
Jayda B. Justus is the creator/writer of the blog, The History Mom, where she provides detailed reviews of US and European historical sites for families with corresponding book recommendations. She loves interacting with the bookish world on Instagram as @thehistorymom, especially #bookstagram, and has appeared as a guest on several podcasts, blogs, and media outlets. Her favorite genres to read are historical fiction and nonfiction, but she also loves contemporary and historical romance and women’s fiction. Hailing from the historic town of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, she is a former legislative director for a Member of Congress and now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her family where she spends her days working on her first novel. Visit her at The History Mom.
- Marmee: A Novel, by Sarah Miller
- William Morrow (October 25, 2022)
- Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (432) pages
- ISBN: 978-0063041875
- Genre: Historical Fiction
We received a review copy of the book via the Thoughts from a Page podcast, in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of William Morrow Books © 2022; text Jayda B. Justus © 2022, austenprose.com.