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Rosen, a deacon in the Episcopal church and a hospital chaplain, delivers an auspicious debut set during the Civil War. Serena Hallam, the beautiful daughter of a prominent Charleston family, is married to handsome Hugh Hallam, a Virginia native, West Point graduate and Mexican War veteran. The happy couple lives with their three children and a dozen slaves at Palmyra Farm in Tennessee. A progressive who is concerned for the welfare of his slaves, Hallam laments the growing sectional acrimony and insists that rational heads will prevail in the end. Regardless, when the war begins, Hallam puts aside "his conflicted loyalties" and joins the Confederate army. Appointed commander of the 8th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, he is wounded and taken prisoner at Shiloh. In his absence, Serena struggles against long odds to run Palmyra Farm and hold the family together. Rosen paints a balanced picture of antebellum life and writes convincingly about the horrors of combat. (Her description of field hospitals is especially chilling.) Civil War buffs in particular will welcome this thoughtful historical novel. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.