Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jocelyn Green's "Widow of Gettysburg": a well balanced novel of history, emotion, and Godly inspiration

As one who has studied war in college but not experienced it in real life, I found  Jocelyn Green's Widow of Gettysburg to be more effective at conveying the horrors of battle than most of the non fiction I read in college.  Part of it is that I cannot see myself in the place of a soldier, which is the viewpoint taken by most when writing of war, but I can see myself as Liberty Holloway, a woman who knows nothing of  battle but suddenly ends up in the midst of its aftermath.  She is not particularly happy about housing and helping the enemy's wounded, nor does she know how to deal with digging out bullets and amputating limbs, and to top it off her home - and her livelihood as an innkeeper - are basically destroyed without ever feeling a bullet.  But she relies on God through it all, and she finds a strength that surpasses her former understanding. 

Widow of Gettysburg is such a poignant depiction of that historical town in the days leading up to the battle, the battle itself, and the aftermath, as Gettysburg and its inhabitants slowly recover from the devastation.   It really encourages one to really think about how a battle affects civilians.  Through Liberty's eyes, we can grasp the horrible sights, the putrid odors, the fatigue, the hunger, and the devastation that remains when "it is all over" and the rebel soldiers are gone.  Her house and barn are half destroyed, she has no garden or animals left, her food supplies were gone in a day, all spare bedding and material were shredded for bandages, and she only has one dress left to her name.  Those are just the material side effects; if anything, after caring for the wounded, she has changed even more emotionally and spiritually.These things were not unique to Liberty - these things happened to real women all over Gettysburg, throughout the whole Civil War, and probably at nearly every battle in history that could in any way affect civilians.

Green's novel is full of good characters who are likeable, and yet none are perfect - each has issues to work through, from the main characters Liberty and Silas, to her former mother-in-law and the rebel doctor.  Even the undisputed bad guys have moments of grace just like anyone.  Besides the obvious plot of the assault on Gettysburg, there is also a strong storyline full of surprises that further inspires the main characters and moves them on their personal journeys.

An excellent balance of historical fact, emotion, and Godly inspiration.  5 out of 5 stars!

Heroines Behind the Lines
1. Wedded to War
2. Widow of Gettysburg
3. Yankee in Atlanta 
4. Spy of Richmond 

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