Readers accustomed to thinking of all wars in absolute terms will find a bracingly different perspective in Hill's Civil War...

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A VOICE FROM THE BORDER

Readers accustomed to thinking of all wars in absolute terms will find a bracingly different perspective in Hill's Civil War novel of conflicting loyalties and fine lines. It seems as if all of Margaret Reeves O'Neill's life has been a border war. Her state, Missouri, is hotly contested during the Civil War. She is on the brink of womanhood, and tom between her father, who fights and dies for the Confederacy, and the Union soldier, Percival Wilder, who has won her affection. Her kind father, who had promised to free their slaves at his death, has amended his will, and his daughter, known as Reeves, feels betrayed. When the family is forced to board Union General Brown and his wife, a published poetess, Reeves is betrayed again; the odious Mrs. Brown steals Reeves's private writings and publishes them as her own. Some aspects of the story are unconvincing: Despite the brutal realities of the war, which Reeves witnesses, and which claim both her father and Percival, the day-to-day gentility of her home life is barely disturbed. Reeves's father has taught his slaves to read, and one of them has literary discussions with Reeves; such discussions were possible, of course, but Hill doesn't persuade readers that they were. Far from exhibiting the usual partisan hatred, women on both sides of the conflict get together to socialize and knit socks for the soldiers, most of whom are gallant gentlemen. Nevertheless, this is an engrossing novel, thoroughly researched, despite the modern sensibility that pervades it.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998