A Missouri family with Rebel sympathies faces excruciating hardship during the Civil War in this debut historical novel.
In the Ozark region of Missouri, the Chiltons are a large family, known for the beauty of its women and the handsomeness and charisma of its men. Cousins Alexander and Lizzie share a special bond, and when the extended family gets together, there’s joyous music, dancing and the occasional good-natured brawl. When the Civil War breaks out, the family finds itself aligned with the Rebel cause, more as a means of protecting Missouri from marauding federal troops than out of any strong feelings about slavery or secession. Alexander and his two brothers quickly enlist, see combat, and return to their homes at the end of their three-month enlistment. But the war follows them home: Their father and other family members became prisoners of war while they were away, and Union troops are raiding local farms for food. Alexander becomes a feared guerrilla fighter as he does everything he can to help the Rebel cause, his family and his beloved Lizzie. The novel is clearly a labor of love, tracing the authors’ own family members through the Civil War and its aftermath. The level of genealogical and historical research is stunning; the novel is full of period details that capture the feel of the era and help draw readers into the narrative. The often lovely prose is sometimes light on detail, which makes some passages hard to follow, as does the profusion of cousins, aunts and uncles, including many with similar names. All in all, however, this is a compelling, highly readable account of life in a border state during the turbulent Civil War years. This book also includes an extended bibliography, a family tree and historical photos of some major characters.
A well-researched Civil War novel based on true events.