[Review] Marmee by Sarah Miller

Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. 2022.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 423.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Library.
Audience: Historical fiction readers. Those who love the story, Little Women.
Rating: Very good.

Sarah Miller’s Goodreads author page/website/ Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter.

Link @ Amazon.


The character, Marmee, is the mother in Little Women. This book holds her story, and from her own voice.

Marmee is written in a chronological journal entry format. The first entry is December 24, 1861. The last entry is December 25, 1868. Some of the entries are brief and others are a few pages.

Some themes in the story: marriage, relationships between mother and daughter, war, poverty, 19th century culture and society, maternal health, dying and death, peace, suffering, injustice, dreams, grief, charity, hope, sacrifice, family, honor, and heroism.

The story has internal and external conflicts. The war is a huge external conflict, but so is sickness and suffering. Poverty is an external conflict. Internal conflicts are anguish and sadness and fear over a loved one who is at war. Other internal conflicts are dealing with grief and civilian life in general during a time of war.

My Thoughts:

Most, if not all, of my readers are acquainted with the story of Little Women. If you have not read the story, then you have seen one of the film adaptions.

If not:

The story of Little Women is about the March sisters who live in Concord, Massachusetts during the Civil War. Their names are Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Their parents are Amos and Margaret (Marmee.)

Their close neighbors are Laurie and his grandfather, Mr. Laurence.

In Little Women, the focus is on the March sisters, primarily Jo. In Marmee, the focus is her voice, feelings, and opinions. I see the family through her eyes.

What I love about Marmee:

  1. I love the shift from the original story, and in seeing the family through Marmee‘s point of view. It is a fresh perspective, and this leaves me with the feeling of reading the story anew.
  2. Marmee is a strong character. She is a dimensional character. I see positive and negative traits. The strongest character traits she has are compassion and determination. When she sees someone in need, she cannot help but give her all to them.
  3. The Civil War is talked about more often than in Little Women. The fear and anguish that effects the community when a soldier is missing, sick, imprisoned, or dead. They read in the newspaper or through conversations about the battles that take place. Most of the men are gone to war. The women care for family and home. The women are left with trying to feed the family and this is difficult.
  4. Marmee is an educated person. She went further in school than most women of this era. However, she cannot earn a living to financially support the family. In the society and culture of this era, the women were limited in options of securing an income. She wrestles with this problem. She is angry.
  5. The story begins and ends with grief. This is unusual in a historical fiction book. The end is a solid and satisfying closure because Marmee looks to the things she is grateful for. However, there is a pronounced and palpable grief. This is another strength in her character: the ability to give grace and receive grace.
  6. My blogger friend, Becky @ Becky’s Book Reviews, remarked on Jo: Is Jo a person who would now be in the LBGTQ community. She has no idea and neither do I. I did not see that the author brought Marmee to that conclusion either.
    What I see is a young woman who has a huge dream of becoming a writer. Jo is a brilliant and intelligent and very much an individual type of person. The dream is so pronounced that everything else is a distant second until after there is a death in her family. It is possible that after this death her thoughts on relationships regarding marriage changed.
    Most of the women I know personally were very focused on dating and romantic relationships as teenagers and young women. This includes me. As a result, many of us married young and did not pursue or finish college that led to a strong career and independence. I know a few women who dated, but their complete focus was finishing college or graduate school and creating a career. Later, these women thought about and invested in romantic serious relationships. I believe some of this has to do with a person’s character, how she feels about self, socio-economic choices (to a degree), and their friend’s influences.
    Marmee did see some of her personality in Jo. It is an interesting and sober thing when as a parent we see certain traits in our children that we too have.
  7. I feel that each character in the story is spot on as in the original story. Marmee goes deeper and wider.
  8. I love the substories of the various women from all walks of life. This is probably one of the most wonderful points of the story. There is a woman who had breast cancer. There is a woman who is a widow with several children to care for. There are women who grieve the deaths of husbands and sons who were in the war. All the substories give Marmee a bigger story outside the March home that is not in Little Women.
  9. The story is strong in dialogue and not a strong descriptive story about the setting, etc. I remark on this because some authors are strong in painting the scenery or environment for readers.

One thought on “[Review] Marmee by Sarah Miller

  1. This interested me as I am planning to read Little Women for the first time this year, even though I do know the story so well from the movies and my mom telling me about it. This is a book I think I’d be interested in checking out. Thank you for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

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