Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Widow of the South


Down the rows of the dead they came. Neat, orderly rows of dead rebel boys who thirty years before had either dropped at the foot of earthen works a mile or so away or died on the floors of the big house overlooking the cemetery. Now there were stone markers, but for so many years there had been only wooden boards, weathered and warped, and tall posts proclaiming the numbers of the dead.'

This is the first paragraph of Widow of the South written by Robert Hicks. This is an incredibly moving book that really opens your eyes to the horrors of the civil war. Based, and very well-researched, on a true story, The Widow of the South tells the story of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The battle at Franklin, Tennessee raged for just 5 hours, but when the smoke cleared there were 9,200 casualties in a field just outside the town of 2,500. Carrie McGavock's plantation home was turned into a makeshift hospital where Carrie and her slave and friend, Mariah, worked tirelessly for days on end to save the wounded men who covered every inch of her house and yards. Two Confederate doctors worked away in the surgery upstairs, tossing amputated limbs out the window until a huge pile had grown. The story continues even after the men are gone and a bit of normalcy begins to take it's place. For Carrie, the war still rages on and she will tirelessly write letters to the dead men's families, so that they may know what has happened to their loved ones. The field where the battle raged and the men fell has also become their graveyard, so when, a few years later, the man who owns the field threatens to plow it over to plant crops, Carrie works to bring the men home to her plantation and several acres that her and her husband have set aside to become a cemetery for those lost men.
This is such a compelling story, written so well and with so much emotion. It will haunt your days until you finish the last page. Beautifully written and so full of history that it is very hard to put down. I know want to visit Carnton Plantation and the cemetery that Carrie worked so hard to preserve.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Lollipop Shoes

(Originally uploaded here )

Wednesday, 31st October
Dia de los Muertos
It is a relatively little-known fact that, over the course of a single year, about twenty million letters are delivered to the dead. People forget to stop the mail - those grieving widows and prospective heirs - and so magazine subscriptions remain uncancelled; distant friends unnotified; library fines unpaid. That's twenty million circulars, bank statements, credit cards, love letters, junk mail, greetings, gossip and bills, dropping daily on to doormats or parquet floors, thrust casually through railings, wedged into letter-boxes, accumulating in stairwells, left unwanted on porches and steps, never to reach their addressee. The dead don't care. More importantly, neither do the living. The living just follow their petty concerns, quite unaware that very close by, a miracle is taking place. The dead are coming back to life.

This is the first paragraph of The Lollipop Shoes, the sequel to Chocolat written by Joanne Harris.

Vianne Rocher now goes by the name of Yanne, trying to create a "normal" environment for her two daughters, Annie and Rosette. She know longer uses magic charms to add sparkle to their worlds, the wind isn't blowing them back and forth and Yanne is soon to marry Theirry, the older pompous landlord of her Parisian Chocolate shop. Soon a new friendship blossoms for Yanne and her daughters with the vivacious Zozie de L'Alba, who blows into their shop bringing sparkle and laughter and wearing the fabulous lollipop shoes that catch Annie's (Anouk) eye. But Zozie has her own brand of magic and a dark and devious nature that threatens to tear this little family apart.

This is a very good read, especially for anyone who loved Chocolat. It's almost a thriller, full of magic, deception and even a bit of evil. A fast read that you won't be able to put down. I bought my copy in a little book store in Red Lodge, Montana. I found it in their used book section and when I brought it up front, the shopkeeper couldn't find it anywhere in his computer program. He finally found it, but the program told him that this particular printing had never gone to press. Hmmmm....very interesting. A bit of magic for me, wouldn't you say? I've googled it myself have not found the same cover so far, but have found that "The Lollipop Shoes" is the title of the UK version and in the US it was published under the title of "The Girl Without A Shadow". Again, interesting...