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The Widow of the Southby Robert Hicks
Synopses & Reviews
In 1894 Carrie McGavock is an old woman who has only her former slave to keep her company...and the almost 1,500 soldiers buried in her backyard. Years before, rather than let someone plow over the field where these young men had been buried, Carrie dug them up and reburied them in her own personal cemetery. Now, as she walks the rows of the dead, an old soldier appears. It is the man she met on the day of the battle that changed everything. The man who came to her house as a wounded soldier and left with her heart. He asks if the cemetery has room for one more.
In an extraordinary debut novel, based on a remarkable true story, Robert Hicks draws an unforgettable, panoramic portrait of a woman who, through love and loss, found a cause. Known throughout the country as "the Widow of the South," Carrie McGavock gave her heart first to a stranger, then to a tract of hallowed ground — and became a symbol of a nation's soul.
The novel flashes back thirty years to the afternoon of the Battle of Franklin, five of the bloodiest hours of the Civil War. There were 9,200 casualties that fateful day. Carrie's home — the Carnton plantation — was taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a hospital; four generals lay dead on her back porch; the pile of amputated limbs rose as tall as the smoke house. And when a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrived and awakened feelings she had thought long dead, Carrie found herself inexplicably drawn to him despite the boundaries of class and decorum. The story that ensues between Carrie and Cashwell is just as unforgettable as the battle from which it is drawn.
The Widow of the South is a brilliant novel that captures the end of an era, the vast madness of war, and the courage of a remarkable woman to claim life from the grasp of death itself.
"Hicks's big historical first novel, based on true events in his hometown, follows the saga of Carrie McGavock, a lonely Confederate wife who finds purpose transforming her Tennessee plantation into a hospital and cemetery during the Civil War. Carrie is mourning the death of several of her children, and, in the absence of her husband, has left the care of her house to her capable Creole slave Mariah. Before the 1864 battle of Franklin, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest commandeers her house as a field hospital. In alternating points of view, the battle is recounted by different witnesses, including Union Lt. Nathan Stiles, who watches waves of rebels shot dead, and Confederate Sgt. Zachariah Cashwell, who loses a leg. By the end of the battle, 9,000 soldiers have perished, and thousands of Confederates are buried in a field near the McGavock plantation. Zachariah ends up in Carrie's care at the makeshift hospital, and their rather chaste love forms the emotional pulse of the novel, while Carrie fights to relocate the buried soldiers when her wealthy neighbor threatens to plow up the field after the war. Valiantly, Hicks returns to small, human stories in the midst of an epic catastrophe. Though occasionally overwrought, this impressively researched novel will fascinate aficionados. Agent, Jeff Kleinman. Major ad/promo, 15-city publicity tour. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A thunderous, action-rich first novel....An impressive addition to the library of historical fiction on the Civil War, worthy of a place alongside The Killer Angels, Rifles for Watie, and Shiloh." Kirkus Reviews
"The author gracefully yet forcefully enters the psychology of these various individuals....And, almost strangely yet certainly beautifully, from all this carnage emerges a love story that transcends time." Booklist (Starred Review)
"We know from the outset about Carrie's cemetery, but her journey to that place is compellingly told. Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Hicks...spins a glorious story....You'll swear you were smelling gunpowder and blood, and you may shed real tears." The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
"[A] wonderful read. [Hicks] blends the historical and the personal with a master storyteller's skill." San Francisco Chronicle
"[W]hen [Hicks] delves into the drama of romance, he tends to founder, and the plot very nearly sinks under the weight of its own seriousness." Houston Chronicle
"Hicks occasionally succumbs to melodrama and his copious research can resonate too loudly, but for the most part, this is a sensitive account of an era that seems to fascinate readers ceaselessly. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"Perhaps the best Civil War novel since...Cold Mountain....[A] compelling, touching, powerful and ultimately unforgettable story." Providence Journal
"Hicks doesn't spare readers the visceral details of war or the gruesome deaths so many suffered. The heartbreaking devastation of the South is on every page." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The Widow of the South skips clumsily from perspective to perspective....[A] clumsy first novel that falls far short of the higher truth to which historical fiction aspires." Baltimore Sun
"Novels about the Civil War constitute a genre unto themselves, but occasionally one comes along that is eloquent and original enough to transcend category and reach a wide audience of fiction readers....[A] stunning and complex story..." Hartford Courant
"While Cold Mountain is a tour de force of American fiction, The Widow of the South falls a bit short of that lofty position — but even with that said, it is a terrific read." Denver Post
The gripping New York Times bestseller based on one of the great forgotten Civil War stories is now in trade paperback.
This debut novel is based on the true story of Carrie McGavock. During the Civil War's Battle of Franklin, a five-hour bloodbath with 9,200 casualties, McGavock's home was turned into a field hospital where four generals died. For 40 years she tended the private cemetery on her property where more than 1,000 were laid to rest.
Carnton Plantation, 1894: Carrie McGavock is an old woman who tends the graves of the almost 1,500 soldiers buried there. As she walks among the dead, an elderly man appears--the same soldier she met that fateful day long ago. Today, he asks if the cemetery has room for one more.
Based on an extraordinary true story, this brilliant, meticulously researched novel flashes back to 1864 and the afternoon of the Civil War. While the fierce fighting rages on Carrie's land, her plantation turns into a Confederate army hospital; four generals lie dead on her back porch; the pile of amputated limbs rises as tall as the smoke house. But when a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrives at her house, he awakens feelings she had thought long dead--and inspires a passion as powerful and unforgettable as the war that consumes a nation.
About the Author
Robert Hicks has been active in the music industry in Nashville for twenty years as both a music publisher and artist manager. The driving force behind the preservation and restoration of the historic Carnton plantation in Tennessee, he stumbled upon the extraordinary role that Carrie McGavock played during and after the Battle of Franklin. This is his first novel.
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