Historical novels aren’t usually high on my TBR list, and there’s something about the American Civil War that makes me hesitate even more. With my reading being sporadic over the last month or so, I figured I’d try something different to kick start my reading binge and gave this one a try.
Wow. I was impressed – I was completely enthralled with the story and characters.
After the death of her parents and twin brother, Catherine Sampson assumes her brother’s identity as Private Cooper Sampson and joins the 19th Massachusetts Regiment of the Union Army in the early days of the American Civil War. After a brutal battle, Coop is searching the hospital tents for her best friend when she meets Sophie Bauer, a volunteer with the Ladies Aid Society. As slow but sweet relationship begins as the two continue to cross paths and correspond.
This is a well crafted story that depicts the harshness of the Civil War with historic accuracy and at the same time creates a wonderful sense of humanity in the characters. I have to admit that I was shocked at some of the battle scenes – seen through both Coop and Sophie’s perspectives – the carnage and devastation not just to the soldiers but the people whose homes and land were the sites of the fighting. The romance is what lays at the heart of the book – it is a slow burn, complete with a series of letters that make me regret the age of texting and email.
As odd as it may sound, I really had no idea what was going to happen next and that added to the suspense as the story moved along. As I am not an American, I know generally about the American Civil War but I don’t know a lot of the details- I know about the Gettysburg Address, but not what preceded it. This made the book all that more mesmerizing as I was just as unsure as Cooper of whether the Union or the Confederates were going to prevail in the battles, let alone if Coop was going to make it.
Well written, fascinating and thought provoking – this is an excellent historical fiction novel that will draw you in immediately and keep you turning pages well into the night.