When sixteen-year-old Josie Summers murders her abusive stepfather, she disguises herself in his clothes, only to be discovered by a young Methodist minister who invites her to assist in his ministry. When "Joseph's" true identity is revealed, the guilt-ridden Reverend John Trethman marries her. Shortly afterward, John is kidnapped by British soldiers and forced to minister to their wounded and dead. Josie again dons a man's disguise and joins the North Carolina militia, but is gravely wounded in a battle that marks the turning point of the Revolution. Morgan's story of enduring love is set against the struggle to build a homeland as an age of freedom is born.
©2003 Robert Morgan; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
"With tremendous narrative pace, a meticulous eye for colorful detail and a tight grasp of historical setting and military action, poet and novelist Morgan delivers a rousing and affecting tale of the American Revolution." (Publishers Weekly)
"An absorbing Revolutionary War novel....[A] heartrending period peace." (Booklist)
This book has something to annoy everyone. There are long and frequent passages of Christian dogma, including the ever-present message that ALL of the characters' sufferings are a direct form of punishment from God. The theme of punishment is so prevalent that it becomes ridiculous; like a toddler who thinks the universe revolves around him, the characters see all events as the result of their own actions and thoughts.
There are long sections of text where not much happens, but we have to slog through boring minutiae describing everything that a character sees and thinks during, say, a three day journey through the woods. The plot never "twists" or "thickens," it just ambles along from one misery to the next, with plenty of reminders that "these are dark times." Neither Lina Patel's lovely narration nor the few bland sex scenes can liven up the story.
Greatly annoying too is the author's guess at how a female character would act. He has the heroine chopping down a rapist with an ax and abandoning her insane mother one minute, and the next minute feeling "so frightened" by something that she cannot move or speak.
The ending of the book is also utterly unsatisfying, with the inevitable and long-awaited lovers' reunion cut short and left to the readers' imagination. I wish I had imagined the whole book; it would have been cheaper and less time-consuming.
Most Annoying Of All: Instead of using the American Revolution as an informative and thoughtful backdrop to his story, Morgan focuses on the activities of a few characters: the super-evil, and the super-good (but they still must be punished!). This Evil Man vs. Just God theme, besides flirting with complete irrationality, ignores the true significance of the war: that people should govern their own lives in a free land and not answer to a King. Picky me, wanting to see glimpses of this noble theme instead of Morgan's version of Pilgrim's Progress.
I found Morgan's book to be a very interesting look at the Revolutionary War from a woman's perspective. The heroine is accidently pulled into the war. Morgan's style of writing is highly descriptive and can be too lengthy at times, but it does much to give a flavor and feel for the times.
The Christian viewpoint seemed realistic for that period of time. I did not find it bothersome, but gave me a deeper appreciation for the moral difficulties of the time.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a perspective of the Revolutionary War from the viewpoint of those living in the occupied areas.
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