Monday, September 21, 2015

Laura Frantz's "The Colonel's Lady" - Revolutionary War on the Kentucky Frontier

Cover Art
In Laura Frantz's third novel of the Kentucky frontier, she focuses on the life of the soldiers stationed in the wilderness. With no more reason to stay in her home in Virginia, Roxanna Rowen makes the dangerous journey to join her father at the fort in Kentucky where he is stationed, only to discover he has been killed on a campaign. Penniless, with no safe passage through the dangerous frontier, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort, where she temporarily takes over her father's job: serving as scrivener to Colonel Cassius McLinn, the fort commander. Roxanna recognizes his love for her father, but little does she realize the terrible secret he is hiding about her father's death.

I love Frantz's depiction of frontier life - I feel so grounded in the setting, it's like I'm there, both in time and place. Most of that is thanks to her grasp of historical detail, which lays foundation of the story. And she doesn't sugarcoat the bad: this novel is quite revealing as to the dismal existence of a soldier on the frontier, where alcohol was one of the few ways to escape from the pain of injuries, sickness (such as dysentery and malaria), and loss of friends in the many skirmishes of the war. And if alcohol didn't cut it, desertion and suicide were the main alternatives.

Besides being a well developed romance, there is a strong spiritual thread to the tale. Cass doesn't know how to forgive himself, and once he shares his guilt, Roxanna can scarcely forgive him. The story begs the question, "How much are you willing to forgive?" Even knowing that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, there are things that seem impossible to forgive by ourselves. Perhaps they are impossible to forgive, at least without the supernatural help of our savior.

Like The Frontiersman's Daughter and Courting Morrow Little, it is a stupendous historical romance, with both joy and heartache, danger and safety in the Lord.  A beautiful novel.

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