Sunday, January 08, 2006

January 2006 Pick: The Widow of the South

Happy New Year and blessings for a glorious 2006 for everyone!

It's a new year filled with new possibilities. And we start our CW's book club by reading a book that speaks of the past.

The Civil War may have ended be more than 100 years old but the legacy that it has left on the nation, particularly the southeast, continues to live on. The stories that have emerged from that era still resonate with readers today because they speak directly to every aspect of the human condition. That has inspired our pick for January: “The Widow of the South” by Robert Hicks.

This novel is based on the real-life story of Carrie McGavock. She’s probably the most famous Southern woman you’ve never heard of. Her life was inalterably changed when the bloodiest battle of the Civil War literally arrived on her doorstep.

Hicks' historical first novel is based on true events in his hometown, and follows the saga of McGavock, a lonely Confederate wife who finds purpose transforming her Tennessee plantation into a hospital and cemetery during the Civil War. Carrie is mourning the death of several of her children, and, in the absence of her husband, has left the care of her house to her capable Creole slave Mariah. Before the 1864 battle of Franklin, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest commandeers her house as a field hospital. The story is told in alternating points of view. For instance, different witnesses, including Union Lt. Nathan Stiles, who watches waves of rebels shot dead, and Confederate Sgt. Zachariah Cashwell, who loses a leg, recount the battle. By the end of the battle, 9,000 soldiers have died, and thousands of Confederates are buried in a field near the McGavock plantation. Zachariah ends up in Carrie's care at the makeshift hospital and though harrowing events surround them, their chaste love remains as the emotional undercurrent of the novel. Meanwhile, she continues to fight to relocate the buried soldiers when her wealthy neighbor threatens to plow up the field after the war
The Widow of the South explores what war does to its participants-not only the soldiers but the families, and how people can find beauty and love even in some of life’s most challenging times.

Join us on Monday, January 16th at 7PM at JosephBeth Booksellers at SouthPark Mall where we’ll talk with the author via phone from his home in Tennessee and learn more about the makings of this fascinating novel. Please RSVP at:

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