cover image Marmee


Sarah Miller. Morrow, $27.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-304187-5

Miller (Caroline: Little House, Revisited) offers another tepid retelling of an American classic, this time from the perspective of Little Women mother Margaret “Marmee” March. Marmee writes in her diary on Christmas Eve in 1861 of how she wishes to give her daughters treats but has no money from her husband Amos, who has been gone four months as an army chaplain. Marmee misses him dearly, though she has her hands full doing charity work and stretching his paychecks to keep their home in Concord, Mass. What follows hews closely to Alcott’s original as Marmee describes their lives in the community and how she and the girls come to the aid of the starving Hummel family. Their neighbors, the generous Mr. Laurence and his grandson, nicknamed Laurie, are unexpected delights to their days, but other entries are weighed by the war news, the spiteful Aunt March, and thoughts about her stillborn child. Marmee feels guilt, too, over her temper, adding to her worries over their financial straits that keep Jo and Meg working instead of at school (just how this happened is revealed near the end). Though overlong and light on new angles to the old story, Miller convincingly captures Marmee’s world and offers a bit of insight on the character. Die-hard Little Women fans might find this intriguing. (Oct.)