August March is an incredibly fun, light read that can simultaneously be incredibly moving in parts
The Astonishing Life of August Marsh
by aaron jackson
“No corner went uncharted, no ladder unclimbed. He knew every inch of the place and could scale a rope or even a curtain with feline liquidity”―
Aaron Jackson, The Astonishing life of August Marsh
In this enchanting first novel, an irrepressibly optimistic oddball orphan is thrust into the wilds of postwar New York City after an extraordinary childhood in a theater—Candide by way of John Irving, with a hint of Charles Dickens.
Abandoned as an infant by his actress mother in her theater dressing room, August March was raised by an ancient laundress. Highly intelligent, a tad feral, August is a true child of the theater –able to recite Shakespeare before he knew the alphabet.
But like all productions, August’s wondrous time inside the theater comes to a close, and he finds himself in the wilds of postwar New York City, where he quickly rises from pickpocket street urchin to star student at the stuffiest boarding school in the nation.
To survive, August must rely upon the kindness of strangers, only some of whom have his best interests at heart. As he grows up, his heart begins to yearn for love—which he may or may not finally find in Penny, a clever and gifted con artist.
Aaron Jackson has crafted a brilliant, enchanting story at once profound and delightfully entertaining. Like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The World According to Garp, and Be Frank with Me, this razor-sharp debut—a classic tale of a young innocent who finally finds his way, reminds us that everyone can find love. Even August March.
The Astonishing Life of August March by Aaron Jackson is an absolutely charming debut novel that feels like the work of Roald Dahl – but entirely more grounded and definitely more adult-oriented.
The book follows the – of course – life of August March who is born and abandoned in a New York City theater, and the – of course – astonishing leaps and bounds he takes throughout his journey up through adulthood. From a precocious toddler to a street urchin to a con artist, Jackson illustrates every step in March’s life with effortless charm, wit, and aplomb. The characters he meets – as well as March himself – are sharply drawn and incredibly entertaining.
While some might take issue with the plot – and March’s lack of agency, since things seem to mostly happen to him, rather than by his hand – such is the typical style of a bildungsroman, which is not something you see too often these days and is actually quite refreshing.
The Astonishing Life of August March is an incredibly fun, light read that can simultaneously be incredibly moving in parts. It is more than worth your time, and if Jackson can keep mustering this style for any forthcoming novels, he’s definitely an author to watch.
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G.M. Nair is a crazy person who should never be taken seriously. Despite possessing both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering and a job as an Aviation and Aerospace Consultant, he writes comedy for the stage and screen, and maintains the blog MakeMomMarvel.Com. Now he is making the leap into the highly un-lucrative field of independent book publishing.
G.M. Nair lives in New York City and in a constant state of delusion.