Every once and a while, I step outside the Science/Fiction Fantasy genre and read something different whether its the new best selling book like The Da Vinci Code or just something that catches my eye, like Widow of the South.
Recommend this product?
I took a Civil War history class in college so I know a little something about the war. The story presented in the Widow of the South intrigued me. Its a story told about a woman in a man's time (usually enough to get my attention) at the one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War--Franklin, TN. It has a good story line told from several points of view, and as far as I know historical context is correct. Of course, its a historical novel so liberties have been taken in interest of story development. It was a good read keeping me interested and entertained with excellent characters that gave some insight to what people might have been feeling during the war.
Plot: Carrie McGavock has lost three of her children to disease and the hardship that was growing up in 1800s. This has left her in a deep depression such that she no longer interacts with the world. Mariah, her slave and best friend (Mariah was gifted to Carrie when they were both children) takes care of Carrie and house. One day during the Civil War a General Forrest comes to visit the Carton Plantation (the name of Carrie and her husbands home). He tells an uninterested Carrie and Mariah that a great battle is coming to Franklin and that he is commandeering the house as a hospital for the Confederate Army and that they should prepare to help the men that will be coming there.
The battle at Franklin was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The Union Army had the high ground and basically mowed down the attacking Confederates. Sending thousands of men to Carrie's home. Instead of wilting away as most women would, Carrie seemed to thrive on this challenge coming out of her depression in order to help as many of this men survive as possible. And later after the war had come and gone, Carrie stands up for her boys once again by stopping the plowing of the battlefield where many of the Confederate soldiers are buried. She has the bodies moved to her property creating one of the largest privately owned cemeteries in the nation, which you can still visit today (http://carnton.org/).
But, this book encompasses more than just Carrie's story. It also tells the sad love story of a poor girl in love with a boy from a wealthy family. And it tells the story of Zachariah. Zachariah becomes the color bearer in the battle of Franklin and is prepared to die, only to be rescued by being captured by the Union Army. He escapes from the Union Army, but is shot in the leg during his escape ending up in Carrie's hospital. His interaction with Carrie becomes the meat of the tale being told. Its this interaction that fleshes out the characters and draws you into the characters so that they are real, and so that you care about what happens to them.
The storyline is a basic battle/war story with the hospital atmosphere causing peoples true colors to shine through. But what makes this story unique and what I enjoyed most about this story, were the characters. They are amazingly well developed so that they seem real. They are people who you can imagine in their entirety and people who you watch change and develop throughout the tragedy that is the war. The minor characters are developed as well. You don't have two well developed characters and then cutouts for the rest. Everyone in this novel tells their own story, and has their own process of development. All the characters storylines are connected so that they make sense and only add to the rich tapestry that is this novel. Nothing included in this story is so sidelined that it takes away from the main plot.
Unlike so many Civil War novels this one is not about the war or what caused it, it is unconcerned with the battle strategy or how that battle effected the war overall, it tells the story of some of the people involved in the war. It is more concerned with how they lived before, what happened to them during the war, and how they picked up the pieces after the war. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would recommend it to anyone who wants a good story flavored with some history.