Gr 7 Up-- While the popularity of the Civil War will insure that this tale finds an audience, The Splendid Vista deteriorates into a sermon at times. Nineteen-year-old Kirsten Weber, a devout German Baptist Brethren, had assumed the duties of her deceased mother years before. She meets Wilshire Patten, a surgeon, when she is thrown from her horse and he offers medical attention. She tries to deny her feelings of love and attempts to manage her younger siblings while their father is away on a religious mission. One brother denies his faith and enters the military, and the rest of the family must deal with the realities of the Civil War when the Battle of Antietam is fought near their home. After the loss of his hand from a stray bullet, Wil discovers God, and Kirsten can now admit her feelings and marry Wil. Some readers may find the portrayal of German Baptist Brethren interesting, but it is hard to believe, without better explanation, that three siblings choose to leave the faith. Civil War buffs will find interesting material, including a brief appearance by Clara Barton. However, better Civil War romances exist, including Patricia Clapp's The Tamarack Tree (Lothrop, 1986), which has more skillful prose, a more believable plot, better character development, and no hidden agenda. --Susan H. Williamson, Homer Center High School, Pa.