For all who have suffered great loss of heart, home, health or family; true home and genuine lasting love can be found.
When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering-and a Confederate scout who awakens her long dormant heart.
But when the scout doesn’t die she discovers he isn’t who he claims to be.
While Liberty’s future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty’s hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed.
In the wake of shattered homes and bodies, Liberty and Bella struggle to pick up the pieces the battle has left behind. Will Liberty be defined by the tragedy in her life, or will she find a way to triumph over it?
Next month, it will be the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and was a significant turning point in the struggle. Over the course of three days there were innumerable casualties with almost 8000 dead and over 25000 injured. At the time, the population of the Pennsylvanian town was a mere 2400. Once the fighting ceased, the town was left overwhelmed by the dead and wounded. It would never be the same again.
The first chapter of Widow of Gettysburg takes place on 26 June 1863. At the start of the day, most of the townsfolk believed their town would escape the fighting. The prevailing thought was that Harrisburg was a far more likely target. In the novel, Liberty is in the process of transforming her farm into an Inn when she receives a visitor. The young man with a northern accent is hungry and asks if she has any food to spare. By the end of the day, however, she will learn he’s a Confederate soldier and the town will have been the target of a supply raid by the troops of Confederate General Jubal Early. But this is just the beginning of the nightmare.
It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it. General Robert E Lee
Although the novel focuses on two civilians, there is no escaping the brutality of the battle. Jocelyn Green used firsthand accounts of what happened as the basis of the book, and quotes by Gettysburg women are included at the ends of certain chapters. Homes across the town were turned into makeshift hospitals – something that was repeated in the vicinity of most of the battles – and women were pressed into service as nurses and doctors’ assistants. They witnessed primitive battlefield surgery as doctors crudely removed limbs crushed by Minié balls and repaired wounds with limited supplies. Bodies piled up in barns while well and creek water was contaminated.
My husband and I are both greatly interested in the American Civil War. When I read of a character deciding that a certain part of town was safe, I winced for I knew it wasn’t. But whereas my husband focuses on the battles, I look at the sociological aspects. What was it like for the civilians during this time? I consider Widow of Gettysburg to be a fascinating look at life for the civilians of Gettysburg during the summer of 1863. It is realistically detailed and Green hasn’t shied away from the truth of the terrible situation. Yet, amidst the despair, this is also a multi-faceted love story. We see examples of love of country, of familial love and, above all, love between a man and a woman. Even in a war zone, life continued.
Thank you to Moody Publishers for my free electronic copy of Widow of Gettysburg, which I downloaded from NetGalley. A review was not required.
Publisher: River North / Moody Publishers
Publication Date: 12 April 2013
Page Count: 384