History takes on vivid life in the stunning first full-length installment of Tamera Alexander's new series, The Carnton Novels.
On the night of November 30, 1864, a brutal battle in Franklin, Tennessee, all but decimates the Confederacy and nearly kills Captain Roland Ward Jones. A decorated Mississippi sharpshooter, Jones has a vision on the battlefield and, despite the severity of his wounds, believes his life will be spared. But a life without his leg, he can't abide. He compels Elizabeth "Lizzie" Clouston—governess to the McGavock family at the Carnton mansion—to intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate. True to her word, Lizzie speaks on his behalf and saves not only the captain's leg but also his life.
When a fourteen-year-old soldier dies in Lizzie's arms that night, the boy's final words, whispered with urgency, demand that Lizzie deliver them to their intended recipient. But all she has is the boy's first name. And, as she soon discovers, there's no record of him ever having enlisted. How can she set out alone across a land so divided by war and hatred to honor her pledge? Even more, does she dare accept Captain Jones's offer to accompany her? As he coalesces at Carnton, romance has blossomed between him and Lizzie—a woman already betrothed to a man she does not love.
From the pages of history and the personal accounts of those who endured the Battle of Franklin, Tamera Alexander weaves the real-life love letters between Captain Roland Ward Jones and Elizabeth Clouston into a story of unlikely romance first kindled amid the shadows of war.
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Goodreads Rating: 4.48
Why I Chose This Book
Tamera first came out with the Christmas novella - Christmas as Carnton in 2017 and it was one of the first few books I reviewed here on the blog (you can read my review —-> HERE). That book took place after the Civil War, and this book takes place during the Civil War so I was excited to re meet some of the characters - The McGavock’s.
First Initial Thoughts
Elizabeth Clouston is the governess of the household for the McGavock’s children. In the beginning it starts off with a beautiful day of teaching but then all of a sudden Elizabeth starts seeing officers walking in the field ready to battle. The opening part of the book reminded me of the opening battle scene of Saving Private Ryan. Yes, Tamera went into that much detail in the horrors of battle.
The Battle mentioned in this book is Battle of Franklin. And it did actually occur near their plantation. It was one of the worst battles in the Civil War with over 6 thousand killed on the confederate side, and over 2 thousand dead on the Union side. What I couldn’t believe is that many of these kinds of battles took place so close to people’s plantations/homes! And often, the owners were forced to use their home as a “hospital” for the wounded because there really was no where else to put them. And worst of all these horrid conditions were exposed to the children of the household. I couldn’t imagine!
Captain Roland Jones is a young man who recently lost his wife and child due to influenza. He almost looses his right leg and looses part of his hand due to a cannonball. His other leg was also injured, therefore he is immobile. He then begins to have a relationship with Elizabeth while she takes care of him.
Elizabeth is engaged to Towny, a man she knew from her childhood and is her best friend. But he is just that - her best friend. She doesn’t feel romantic feelings towards him but she tries to convince herself that she will begin to love him overtime. She feels desperate to marry because she is 27 years old and wants to have children. If you remember, at that age during that era, 27 was starting to be too old to have children.
Whew, Tamera did not shy away from the obscenities of war. The aftermath - she described it in such horrid detail, the injuries, the smell, the pleas and crying out in pain. Even though it was quite hard to read, I appreciated that Tamera did this. It makes us realize the horrible result of war and what it does to the families of the victims. Tamera really brought the reader into the world of Carnton, and what it felt like living at that time.
What I found quite impressive about this book is that Tamera did extensive historical research on this novel. All the characters, letters, the battle itself, were real. Yes, all the people in this book were real people! You can check out more about her research process, view some pictures of the characters, and read her Q&A —> HERE.
I really liked the relationship between Roland and Elizabeth. I absolutely adored their conversations together and I felt that they fit so well together. Despite their differing views on slavery. I think without Roland, Elizabeth wouldn’t have started to second think her engagement to Towny. To not settle and lean on God to know on what to do. I also liked that she didn’t make Roland a Union soldier, I think that would have been to cliche.
Elizabeth, I really enjoyed seeing her development throughout the novel. In the beginning though I have to say, she was so brave in taking care of the wounded and assisting Dr. Phillips in the surgeries. I couldn’t imagine, never doing any kind of medical work, assist in surgeries, but not only any surgery - but amputations. I give her big round of a plause!
I think the main message of this book is to know that bad things happen but what you do after that is important. We don’t know why God lets bad things happen but we have to trust in him that all things happen for a reason and he has a plan for us. I also believe Tamera wanted to shine a light on the affects of war and what it does to one person.
Would I Recommend?
Most definitely! However, this book can be very graphic in terms of war. if you are quite sensitive (or have PTSD due to being in war) to not necessarily the act of battle, but it’s aftermath, then you might want to pass.
You can purchase the book —- > HERE
Note: I was sent an ARC copy of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own.