A Separate Country: A Story of Redemption in the Aftermath of the Civil War

A Separate Country: A Story of Redemption in the Aftermath of the Civil War

3.5 41
by Robert Hicks
     
 

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Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army—and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At

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Overview

Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army—and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the Battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins. But fate had other plans. Crippled by his war wounds and defeat, ravaged by financial misfortune, Hood had one last foe to battle: Yellow Fever. A Separate Country is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures-and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
"Robert Hicks's riveting new novel takes up Hood's life after the war. Anyone who has ever lived in New Orleans must be prepared to be made homesick, and the bizarre cast of characters, including a dwarf, a burly priest and a boy of mixed and mysterious parentage, wouldn't seem right in any city but this one. I read A Separate Country with breakneck speed for that most old-fashioned of reasons: I wanted to see what happened next. And then I eagerly read it a second time to make sure I got the complicated twists and turns. Is there a better recommendation?"
BookPage
"A lovely, richly detailed tale pulled partly from history, partly from his own imagination. [Hicks] captures the enchanting, dark humid soul of post-war New Orleans..."
Booklist
"A powerful epic about how love and unselfish choices lead to personal transformations...Hicks uncovers layers of detail about characters and events we naively thought we understood. A marvelous accomplishment, as beautifully written and heart-wrenching as its predecessor."
New Orleans Times Picayune
"A Separate Country is a powerful evocation of New Orleans as it was in 1879, a book thick with history, rich in atmosphere. The characters walk the city's rough and tumble streets, witness the corruption of the Louisiana Lottery and the toll of the yellow fever epidemic, enact their very human love affairs, hide their secrets. To read it is to visit, for the length of its pages, an all-enveloping, passionately rendered past, beautiful and hallucinatory. 'This city is not for the fainthearted,' Hicks writes."
Miami Herald
"After the War, Hood scampered down to New Orleans in order to try to live as fully as possible. That's where Robert Hicks enters in his marvelous new book, which looks back on the legendary and monstrous general of the Civil War with a brand new set of eyes. Hicks doesn't ever let us forget that this was once a man who 'cared very little for the men [he] ruined.' Yet at the same time, this is a work which seems designed to remember Hood neither as a legend nor a monster but as a man."
From the Publisher
"Robert Hicks's riveting new novel takes up Hood's life after the war. Anyone who has ever lived in New Orleans must be prepared to be made homesick, and the bizarre cast of characters, including a dwarf, a burly priest and a boy of mixed and mysterious parentage, wouldn't seem right in any city but this one. I read A Separate Country with breakneck speed for that most old-fashioned of reasons: I wanted to see what happened next. And then I eagerly read it a second time to make sure I got the complicated twists and turns. Is there a better recommendation?"—Washington Post"

A lovely, richly detailed tale pulled partly from history, partly from his own imagination. [Hicks] captures the enchanting, dark humid soul of post-war New Orleans..."—BookPage"

A powerful epic about how love and unselfish choices lead to personal transformations...Hicks uncovers layers of detail about characters and events we naively thought we understood. A marvelous accomplishment, as beautifully written and heart-wrenching as its predecessor."—Booklist"

Hicks follows his bestselling The Widow of the South with the grand, ripped-from-the-dusty-archives epic of Confederate general John Bell Hood...Hicks's stunning narrative volleys between Hood, Anna Marie and Eli, each offering variety and texture to a story saturated in Southern gallantry and rich American history."—Publisher's Weekly"

A Separate Country is a powerful evocation of New Orleans as it was in 1879, a book thick with history, rich in atmosphere. The characters walk the city's rough and tumble streets, witness the corruption of the Louisiana Lottery and the toll of the yellow fever epidemic, enact their very human love affairs, hide their secrets. To read it is to visit, for the length of its pages, an all-enveloping, passionately rendered past, beautiful and hallucinatory. 'This city is not for the fainthearted,' Hicks writes."—New Orleans Times Picayune"

After the War, Hood scampered down to New Orleans in order to try to live as fully as possible. That's where Robert Hicks enters in his marvelous new book, which looks back on the legendary and monstrous general of the Civil War with a brand new set of eyes. Hicks doesn't ever let us forget that this was once a man who 'cared very little for the men [he] ruined.' Yet at the same time, this is a work which seems designed to remember Hood neither as a legend nor a monster but as a man."—Miami Herald

Charlotte Hays
…riveting…Anyone who has ever lived in New Orleans must be prepared to be made homesick, and the bizarre cast of characters, including a dwarf, a burly priest and a boy of mixed and mysterious parentage, wouldn't seem right in any city but this one. I read A Separate Country with breakneck speed for that most old-fashioned of reasons: I wanted to see what happened next. And then I eagerly read it a second time to make sure I got the complicated twists and turns. Is there a better recommendation?
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Hicks follows his bestselling The Widow of the South with the grand, ripped-from-the-dusty-archives epic of Confederate general John Bell Hood. The story begins with Hood, on his deathbed with yellow fever, dispersing a stack of papers to former war nemesis Eli Griffin, urging him to publish the general's “secret memoir.” Hood's story picks up in 1878 as he, nearly broke, reflects on the past 10 years' dwindling fortunes. Now, with an artificial leg, a bum arm and nearly no money, he and his wife, Anna Marie, live in diminished circumstances in New Orleans. Over time, their once passionate relationship grows mundane as Hood “watched the years wrench devilry and lust and joy from her face.” Things are also complicated by the violent death of Anna Marie's best friend and the reappearance of former comrade Sebastien Lemerle, who holds a nasty secret he holds about Hood's past. Meanwhile, Hood's marriage and business failures pale in comparison to the yellow fever epidemic that decimates the area. Hicks's stunning narrative volleys between Hood, Anna Marie and Eli, each offering variety and texture to a story saturated in Southern gallantry and rich American history. (Sept.)
Library Journal
After the Civil War, Confederate general John Bell Hood retired to New Orleans, where he became a businessman, married Creole belle Anna Marie Hennen, and fathered 11 children. This second novel from Hicks (The Widow of the South) opens in 1879 as Hood lies dying of yellow fever. His deathbed wish is to see his "private" memoir published in lieu of his earlier detailed accounting of the war. Hood enlists the aid of Eli Griffin, a young Tennessean who had come to New Orleans in 1875 to kill the man who led the South's defeat at the Battle of Franklin and later became enmeshed in the lives of the Hoods and the tragic events surrounding longtime friends of Anna Marie's and a former subordinate of the general's. VERDICT Suffused with racial tension, brutality, sweltering heat, and sickness, this is the tale of a warrior knowing "nothing about death, only killing" who finally seeks love and a reconciliation with God. Readers must see past the bugs and the stench of New Orleans to unravel the puzzle of these picaresque characters. Recommended for Civil War buffs and those who appreciate precise, evocative writing. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09.]—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
A tale of mixed-up foolscap, dark secrets, a dwarf and a wharf. Tennessee-based Hicks, who debuted with a Civil War novel (The Widow of the South, 2005), ventures here into Reconstruction-era New Orleans. His hero is real-life Confederate warrior John Bell Hood (for whom the Texas fort is named), who settled after the Cause was Lost in New Orleans, where he had 11 children and otherwise kept busy. In Hicks' tense and tasty account, one of Bell's occupations is fending off the plague of unwanted characters who seek in one way or another to capitalize on his wartime renown. One is a mysterious chap named Sebastien Lemerle, a companion at arms from antebellum days. "In Texas I was young," Hood remembers. "I wanted to fight. I wanted to fight Comanche. Sebastien Lemerle and his squad came with me." For his sins, Hood gets his wish, and plenty more fights to boot. Somewhere along the way he also earns the continued attentions of Lemerle, who comes sniffing around Hood's door all these years after the Civil War has ended. Not far behind is a "little man" named Rintrah who has his fingers in many a pie, as well as a priest decidedly not on priestly business and a few assorted members of the proto-KKK, to say nothing of the foppish Beauregard, gone from Civil War hero to New Orleans wheeler-dealer and publisher, in whose hands is a manuscript of Hood's that Hood does not wish to be there. Thus the plot thickens, and Hicks spins a taut tale, told in many voices, of tangled webs, vengeance and other unfinished business. Expertly written, with plenty of unexpected twists-a pleasure for Civil War buffs, but also for fans of literary mysteries.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446581653
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
03/10/2011
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
375,392
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.50(d)

What People are saying about this

Julia Reed
"Beautifully written and meticulously researched, A Separate Country brings the very separate country of late 19th century New Orleans to lush, amazing life. Hicks's novel is heartbreaking, tender, and seductive--just like the city in which it is set. I fell completely in love with these characters and I adore this book. A Separate Country is a richly imagined, redemptive tale of one of the Confederacy's most controversial generals. I couldn't put it down."--(Julia Reed, author of The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story)
Lee Smith
"Robert Hicks has done it again! Like New Orleans, the past itself is always "another country," but Hicks transports us there with ease. Master of voice, character, and atmosphere, here is a born storyteller who has found an unforgettable story to tell."--(Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls)
James Lee Burke
"Robert Hicks writes beautifully. His re-creation of New Orleans and its fatal beauty and the courage of its people is stunning. The narrator's voice has the historical authenticity of Ishmael's or Huck Finn's. As soon as you begin reading A Separate Country, the reader knows he's in the hands of a pro."--(James Lee Burke, author of Swan Peak)

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Meet 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 perservation 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. He is the author of The Widow of the South.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Franklin, Tennessee
Date of Birth:
January 30, 1951
Place of Birth:
West Palm Beach, Forida
Website:
http://www.robert-hicks.com

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Separate Country 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
FallenAngel More than 1 year ago
I read the previous book A Widow Of The South and loved it.I read A Separate Country and fell back in love. This is a story of the South,post Civil War.The characters tell the reader of how life in New Orleans was during the days following the War and through plagues and how the racial issues continued. This is a love story between a beautiful Creole girl and a disabled,war ravaged General.It's told in various perspectives.If you are a fan of historical romance or the old South,you should read A Widow Of The South and A Separate Country.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Eli Griffin has been given a special task by General Hood. A task that will take him deep into the Hood family's history and open a whole can full of mysteries and intrigue. General Hood and his wife, Anna Marie, have both written their histories down and we follow their tale as Eli reads through it, with the occassional jump back to the "present" as we see the effects their stories have on the man. General Hood is not a good man and has done things that lead to the deaths of many people. This is his story and how he comes to terms with his past and tries to make up for what he has done. While I did not like General Hood in the beginning, he seemed to be a callous and cruel man, by the end he had earned, at least, my respect. Respect for accepting the consequences of his actions and learning from them. Respect for trying to change his life. I'm a little at a loss as to what to think of Anna Marie. I had a very hard time relating to her as a woman, mother, or wife. She seemed to be constantly trying to overcome something within herself, something similar to selfishness, that she could never quite master. This seemed to hang over her head too often to allow me as a reader to get too close. Eli Griffin, the main narrator, was an odd man, and I'm still not quite sure what to think of him. He changes and grows in ways that are surprisingly familiar, but I can't seem to put my finger on why. I enjoyed reading the book, but there were times I had to put it down, especially near the beginning, because the scenes were a quite disturbing. They were there for a purpose, and the book wouldn't have been the same without them, though. 4/5
StacieRosePittard More than 1 year ago
I thought this book would be informative and interesting. Instead it was slow and vulgar. The author carried on about pointless information. I have never actually fallen asleep from boredom while reading...until this book.  I say it's vulgar because it seemed every chapter had something about the two main character's sex life...to the point of where it was extremely unrealistic. For example, for a good chunk of the book the story is being told from a mother's perspective in a letter to her daughter. What sane mother would include such heavy details about her sex life? it was disgusting, and a sad piece of historical fiction (as if it had much history in it at all...). 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love reading books about the old south. However this book I gave up on I thought it was rather confusing. I was really disappointed.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
In A Separate Country, Robert Hicks takes the reader to post-Civil War New Orleans. The book follows the life of General John Hood and his family in this period. General Hood came to New Orleans as a feared and respected man, a Confederate general who led forces and unleashed chaos upon the land. After the war, he flounders trying to find what his new life will be. Grievously injured with one leg missing and one arm that won't work, he isn't sure he even knows how to fit into society when he isn't needed to lead men to war. He finds his purpose when he meets and marries Anna Marie Hennen, a famous New Orleans society beauty. Hood and Anna Marie have eleven children. Hood introduces the reader to the intricacies of Southern society. There are cotton brokers, lotteries, freed slaves now attempting to make a living, and men in societies formed for the sole purpose of refusing African-Americans their rights. There are many orphans who also claw and fight for a chance at a new life once their family ties have been cut asunder by war. There are men that learn to fit in, and those who are so damaged by the war that they never find redemption. This book is highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction. It is rife with complex characters. There is Rintrah and Pascale, orphans who run away from the orphanage and carve out lives for themselves. Pascale has both black and white heritage and sometimes passes as a white man, a scheme for which he pays dearly. Rintrah is a dwarf who fights and schemes until he controls much of the underworld of the city. Father Mike is a priest who isn't priestly, except when the yellow fever plague arrives. He recruits all these characters along with John Hood to fight the plague and try to save the poor people of the city who are it's first and most severely affected victims. Hicks has created a city where the reader feels they could walk down the streets and encounter people they know. The characters are intricate and Hicks outlines the various relationships that tie them together. He explores what it means to be a man at war, and a man who seeks redemption. This is an extremely satisfying book, and readers won't be disappointed.
Deb_in_FW More than 1 year ago
I read Robert Hicks other Civil War Book "Widow of the South" and enjoyed it so much that purchasing this book was a no brainer. And....I wasn't disappointed. I like how you slowly learn the personality of each character in the book and Mr. Hicks write so vividly that I could just picture New Orleans so long ago. I also enjoy that he writes about strong women! Great book and would highly recommend it.
PenelopeSue More than 1 year ago
so well written, couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow and boring. Very pointless and hardly any likeable characters. One star for use of New Orleans as a character.
WritermomHB More than 1 year ago
A work of historical fiction, Robert Hicks wrote A Separate Country from the perspective of his purported main characters. Each chapter speaks from a different character. However, General John Bell Hood was a real person. This story tells of his life after the war, living in New Orleans with his wife and children. The problem is: how much is the reader supposed to believe? I am not an expert on General Hood, so I don’t know. Hood died in the yellow fever epidemic that decimated New Orleans, but how much else of this story is true? Hicks would have done better to write a biography, rather than attempt a novel with fictional content about a real person in a real place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Hicks once again brings us a story that is aching to read and eye opening to comprehend. John Hood was deeply scarred from the war and  very flawed as he goes through all of the hell the aftermath of the war brings forth for New Orleans.  Mr. Hicks writing has come along from his first book, and the story is relevant for how we are shaped today.  Really opened my eyes to the issues of the south in a way I had not previously encountered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Different view of a hero of the Confederacy.
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southern_girlTN More than 1 year ago
If you like stories about the south, it's good. A little slow.
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Amanda Carter More than 1 year ago
It's a must read! I couldn't put this book down. I wish to read more like this.
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