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I'm a Library Associate/Adult Services in Maryland. I'm married. I have three children and two grandchildren. And I have twenty chickens and one beehive in the backyard.

Jul 2, 2008

BOOK REVIEW # 3 - The Widow of the South


Ok, so I read Robert Hicks’ The Widow of the South, the third of three books for Maggie's Southern Reading Challenge . Hicks is a Floridian who moved to Franklin, Tennessee (the setting for this historical novel) and wrote about the Civil War carnage that took place there in 1864, so he’s a Southern author and it's a Southern setting for sure. I’m not typically a fiction reader although I can and will read top-notch, well-written fiction that comes my way. And I don’t read much about the Civil War, either. However, I chose this book because it was highly recommended by a couple of co-workers and because it is based on a true story.

Unfortunately, Hicks’ clumsily crafted love story between Carrie McGavock and a Confederate soldier by the name of Cashwell prevented me from fully experiencing the tragedy that took place in Franklin, Tennessee so long ago. More than 9,000 men died there in a single day, and McGavock’s home was used as a field hospital to treat the Confederate soldiers. Many of them were severely injured, and died anyway, and were buried nearby. McGavock and her husband later reburied, on their own land, almost 1500 of those men when the owners of the original grave sites wanted to plow the land under.

Carrie McGavock’s home being requisitioned by the US of A as a prison for the injured Confederate soldiers/prisoners, as a Union officer informs Carrie after the battle, is a compelling story. However, it is laborious having to wade through the fluff of Hicks' irrelevant descriptions and poorly constructed relationships between many of the characters to get to the heart of the story. This tragedy would be more compelling if it had been told as non-fiction, with Hicks sticking to the facts and focusing on the reburial of the soldiers by the McGavocks. Only after reading the Author’s Note, at the end of the book, did I begin to feel the magnitude of this tragedy.

7 comments:

____Maggie said...

Great review Stella! You know I pick this up to read all the time, but lose interest. Well, I totally agree! If he had written it in nonfiction, I would be all over it as a reader!

This is a sad, sad case of state of the mule. Gruesome and dark! Thanks for playing though! :)

Stella said...

Yes - a sad, sad case of state of the mule indeed. Actually, the beating with the sledge hammer was a blessing to that poor mule. He'd already taken a bullet a couple of pages back.

____Maggie said...

Man, multiple states! So glad this is fiction! ;)

____Maggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S. Krishna said...

I wasn't sure whether I want to read this or not, and now I'm glad I haven't!

Stella said...

You might want to do a little research about this because it's certainly a fascinating story. Imagine--a woman devoting the rest of her life to tending the graves of dead civil war soldiers, even digging some of them up and reburying them.

Laura said...

Poor mule :( I read this book earlier in the year, and I really enjoyed the pictures and the author's note at the back as well!