My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a wrenching novel of the Civil War from the perspective of the people left behind, the women and children. Like Cold Mountain it deals with the evil men do during wartime, and the courage and bravery of ordinary people.
Amrie St. Pierre is a pre-teen in Louisiana catching tadpoles with her best friend, Finn. Her physician father and healer mother are abolitionists who oppose the breakup of the Union, but they're loyal to their home, and when war comes Dr. St. Pierre enlists and leaves his wife and daughter to fend for themselves.
The heroes in this novel are not the generals and the soldiers, on either side, but the ordinary folks who try to live their lives and help one another. Unlike Cold Mountain and other war novels written by men, there's a wrenching and particular emphasis on the violence women suffered--black women and white women, free and enslaved--and how war affects them and their children.
Ms. Harris is best known for her Regency era romances and her Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, but this is an outstanding example of historical fiction at its best. My only regret is we don't know more about Amrie's life post-war. She's the kind of heroine who sticks with you, and I'd love to read more of her story.
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