I was already a fan of Jocelyn Green with her fiction debut last year, Wedded to War, book one of the Heroines Behind the Lines series, so I approached Widow of Gettysburg with a mix of delighted anticipation and worry. Part of me wondered if she could pull off the same detailed research and genuine feel for the time period. I braced myself for disappointment, thinking she couldn't possibly craft real and likeable characters with the same depth as Ruby O'Flannery and Charlotte Waverly. And I confess I worried that so much has been written about Gettysburg already, how could anyone write a fresh and original story?
I am delighted to say all of my worries were for naught. This novel exceeded all of my expectations, and my hopes were set pretty high. Civil War is a special interest of mine. I probably judge harder than most. But Ms. Green's meticulous attention to historical detail is a hallmark of her style. She has a compelling voice, and creates plots and characters that surprise, delight, challenge and ultimately inspire.
Liberty Halloway lost her husband early on in the war, and has been left to run her farm near Gettysburg with only the help of a hired freed woman and the companionship of a half blind and deaf Newfoundland dog. Dressed in "grave clothes", she greets a potential boarder who turns out to be a half starved young man begging a bit of bread—the most polite and enchanting beggar she's ever met, Silas. He challenges her to leave off her mourning, and also imparts a cryptic warning about finding another place to go for the near future as things are about to get intense.
Silas is more than meets the eye. Without giving away too much of the intricate and fascinating plot, both Libbie and Silas are on a journey of discovery and healing, navigating mutual attraction and impossible obstacles to their star crossed romance.
Again with this book as with the last, the secondary characters and subplots make Wedded to War a gripping read. Freedmen and women like Bella grace the story until a climactic moment brings them center stage. Also featured is the role of newsmen and military couriers and scouts from the Civil War.
Ms. Green does an exceptional job creating the sights, sounds, culture, and voice of the age. I was transported into a world of bucolic beauty and peace ravaged by the chaos of war and its aftermath. Though the journey has moments of great drama and depicts the stark reality of war, the destination delivers the reader to a satisfying and hopeful place. This novel is destined to become a classic for its broad view of America's greatest land battle, and its intimate portraits from several points of view from its diverse cast of characters. Libbie is sure to steal your heart and have you rooting for her all the way to the end, to find love, peace, and hope for a happily ever after.
To celebrate her May 1st release of Book 2 in the Heroines Behind the Lines series, I am offering a copy of Widow of Gettysburg to one lucky commenter, winner's choice of ebook or print. In addition, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Gettysburg and the battles of 1863, I am offering a copy of my novella Bachelor Buttons to one lucky commenter.
Giveaway ends Friday May 24 at 8PM Eastern. To earn extra entries, share this on facebook, twitter and google+, follow this blog, (top right corner of page) or Jocelyn's blog, or my giveaway blog.
Thank you for visiting, and good luck!