I have just finished the last page of The March by E.L. Doctorow. This is an epic tale in three parts about William Tecumseh Sherman’s infamous March through the South at the end of the Civil War.
War was indeed, hell. There is no sugar-coating as to how the Northern troops went about “liberating” the African-Americans at the time. Yes, they were often freed from their masters, but they were then left for themselves with very little provisions. A key character in the book, Pearl, is freed from her life as a half Negro-half white plantation child. But Pearl is different, as she is as white as any of the Southern Belles. Only when she speaks do you find her true beginnings.
I am somewhat torn on this book. I only rated it 3 1/2 stars on my reader. While the story was fascinating with all the twists and turns, and the ability of the author to tie the characters together was truly wonderful, the skipping around and sometimes lengthy internal conversations of the characters, especially Sherman, became tedious. I’d find myself skimming them over and hoping that they would end soon. Kilpatrick is a truly vile individual in this book, although he gets him comeuppance in fabulous fashion.
A young Southern plantation wife, a Judge’s daughter with a gift for nursing, a German doctor with a brilliant skill, famous generals, ordinary soldiers and individuals are carefully weaved back and forth through the story. I did feel that the ending was very blunt. I wanted to know more of what happened to Pearl, her beau, Calvin the Negro photographer, and the little slave boy David.