Fort Negley Nashville Tenn

Fort Negley Nashville Tenn
Nashville Skyline from Fort Negley in Tennessee

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"The Widow of the South" by Robert Hicks

Remember several months ago, when I talked about our trip to the Franklin Tennessee area to visit several Civil War sites?  Well, one of them was Carnton Plantation and I noticed that there was a book written about the place!

Robert Hicks has written a really cool book of historic fiction based on Carnton and what happened there during the Civil War.

I do have one issue with historic fiction, and I generally try to avoid it, because I don't want to get confused on the facts!

This is FICTION, and the writer takes his liberties.  BUT, I think the spirit of people in Franklin at that time is accurately guessed and conveyed.

For example, the main character, Carrie McGavock, who has lost 3 children already before the Confederates declare her home to be a hospital, comes off as suffering from some serious mental health issues.  I don't know if the real life Carrie McGavock would have behaved the way the fictional one does, but I would understand it if she did. 

Robert Hicks is doing a lot of guess work on the characters, but I think he does a great job of his guesses.  The characters are believable.  AND, as he switched voices (different parts of the book are from different character's points of view) they seem right.  The language....  the way of talking and thinking, feels accurate for the 1860s.  Some writers are great at getting their character's voices right, and I think Robert Hicks really has that talent.  That is something that I admire in an author.

And speaking of giving character's a voice that feels accurate....the author has Civil War legend Nathan Bedford Forest show up a couple of times.  Love him or hate him (there are no in-betweens with Forrest) he adds something to any story.  I have to say I felt that Hicks did a good job with estimating how Forrest would talk and act.

So, author Robert Hicks takes a very simple event that we know happened in history- Carrie McGavock selflessly helps out at the Confederate Hospital/Her Home, and then continues her service to the Confederate dead by setting up and maintaining a cemetery for those killed in the battle of Franklin.  He takes this giving character and creates a story for her.

This was a really interesting novel that held my attention.  It was especially interesting reading it after visiting the actual Carnton Plantation AND the cemetery on the property once cared for by Carrie.

Robert Hicks hit it out of the park with this effort.  "The Widow of the South" gets my highest possible recommendation.

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