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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Female Civil War Soldiers Novel a Good (Enough) Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When her young husband joins the Confederate Army, Libby Beale Tanner knows he may never come home.  Still, she's not at all prepared to be a widow almost before she's had a chance to be a bride.  Haunted by the loss, Libby's overwhelming grief takes on a disturbing singlemindedness.  Obsessed with avenging her husband by killing one Union soldier to represent each of the dead man's twenty years of life, she disguises herself as a man and joins the Army herself.  

Although Josephine Beale never liked her sister's cocky husband, she's devastated to see her beloved Libby so overtaken by sadness.  When she discovers Libby's cockamamie plan to enlist, Josephine begs her sister not to be so foolhardy.  When Libby refuses to back down, Josephine does the only thing she can to protect her—she enlists, too.  

Rechristened Thomas and Joseph Holden, the women join a big, bloody war that will rock them to their cores in ways they could never have predicted.  Tormented nightly by her husband's angry ghost, Libby slowly descends into madness.  Struck by Cupid's arrow, Josephine is going crazy in a different way.  Desperate to keep their identities both concealed and intact, the sisters struggle to remain sane in a world gone utterly mad.

I find the subject of women disguising themselves as men to serve in the Civil War endlessly fascinating.  These based-on-a-true-story accounts showcase the courage and devotion that drove real women to join the cause, whether it was in an effort to stay close to a loved one, earn money for their families, or simply to prove themselves in a time when they were limited by the constraints of being a "lady".  Sisters of Shiloh, penned by sisters Kathy and Becky Hepinstall, is an interesting depiction of what two Southern women may have experienced while serving as Confederate soldiers.  Although the characters are not well developed, the sisters are both sympathetic story people.  Their tale is one of survival; as such, it's episodic, meandering, and even a little dull at times.  Despite this, a plodding pace, and some overdone prose, though, I liked Sisters of Shiloh well enough to finish it.   


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Sisters of Shiloh with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
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