"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Widow of the South



The Widow of the South was based on events that took place in Robert Hick’s home town. It is the story of Carrie MacGavock, a woman who’s home was commandeered as a field hospital in the time of the Civil War. Mr. Hicks writes eloquently of Carrie, her husband and the wounded soldier, Zacariah Cashwell, she comes to love. Carrie is an amazing and quite human woman. She has lost several children and is very depressed, almost to the point of madness at the time of the commandeering of her home in Tennessee. A bloody battle takes place in Franklin where almost 9,000 men perish.

The battle scene is bloody and most violent, the period is well researched and Civil War buffs will love this book for it’s astounding attention to detail.

Of interest to me, and what kept me riveted to the book, is how this amazing woman fought to keep the dead bodies of soldiers she didn’t even know from being plowed over by rich and bitter neighbor who has lost his only son in the battle. Carrie has the soldiers dug up and re-buried in her own land and creates a cemetery for the soldiers. The real Carrie and her husband actually did this, creating the only private Confederate cemetery.

I was amazed and moved by this book. The author was able to delve into the psychological impacts of war, death, depression and rage, taking us deeply into the psyches of each character. His characters were very real and very human to me. It amazed me that a woman, caught up in her own sorrow was able to care for the soldiers dying in her home, comfort them and then give up her own land to bury them and dignify them. The chaste love story that emerges in the background of this battle, these deaths, the fight for the right to bury them is transcendent and beautiful and illuminates the book with such perfect grace.

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