The Widow of the South

( 132 )


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 ...

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The title character of this haunting historical novel is Carrie McGavock, whose farmhouse was commandeered as a Confederate field hospital before the tragic battle at Franklin, Tennessee, in November 1864. That day, 9,000 soldiers perished. This tragic event turned McGavock into "the widow of the South." She spent the rest of her life mourning those lost, eventually reburying nearly 1,500 of them on her property. Robert Hicks's first historical novel captures the life-altering force that war exerts even on noncombatants.
Paulette Jiles
… Carrie McGavock's convoluted internal monologues about why she feels impelled to rescue the wounded and bury the dead halt the narrative in its tracks. Better to stick with Cashwell; he alone is worth the read. I'd follow him anywhere, wooden leg and all.
3 The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
John McGavock, the husband of our eponymous heroine, isn't even dead when she begins wearing black, but the mantle of mourning seems to fit Carrie McGavock. Having lost three young children, it is perhaps appropriate that she becomes the caretaker of over 1500 Confederate dead, all killed at the Battle of Franklin, TN, in 1864. Based on a true story, music publisher Hicks's first novel brings the reader onto the battlefield and into the lives of its survivors, including Zachariah Cashwell, an Arkansas soldier whose presence at the makeshift hospital established in the McGavock home shakes Carrie out of her stupor: "I had discovered why I had been drawn to him," she says. "He is a living thing, not a dying one." And it is life, after all, that drives Hicks's story. We know from the outset about Carrie's cemetery, but her journey to that place is compellingly told. Highly recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/05.]-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A thunderous, action-rich first novel of the Civil War, based on historical fact. Music publisher Hicks treats a long-overlooked episode of the war in this account of the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., which took place in November 1864 near Nashville. As a field hospital is pitched in her field, Carrie McGavock, an iron-spined farm woman and upstanding citizen of the town, takes it upon herself to tend after the Confederate wounded; later, she and her husband will rebury 1,500 of the fallen on their property. Hicks centers much of the story on Carrie, who has seen her own children die of illness and who has endurance in her blood. "I was not a morbid woman," Carrie allows, "but if death wanted to confront me, well, I would not turn my head. Say what you have to say to me, or leave me alone." Other figures speak their turn. One is a young Union officer amazed at the brutal and sometimes weird tableaux that unfold before him; as the bullets fly, he pauses before a 12-year-old rebel boy suffocating under the weight of his piled-up dead comrades. "Suffocated. I had never considered the possibility," young Lt. Stiles sighs. Another is an Arkansas soldier taken prisoner by the Yankees: "I became a prisoner and accepted all the duties of a prisoner just as easily as I'd picked up the damned colors and walked forward to the bulwarks." Yet another is Nathan Forrest, who would strike fear in many a heart as a Confederate cavalryman, and later as the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Hicks renders each of these figures with much attention to historical detail and a refreshing lack of genre cliche, closing with a subtle lament for the destruction of history before the bulldozer: "One longs to know that somethings don't change, that some of us will not be forgotten, that our perambulations upon the earth are not without point or destination."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. First printing of 75,000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446697439
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/26/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 113,828
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Hicks

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.


The Widow of the South is based on the true story of Carrie McGavock, whose house was commandeered as a field hospital during the 1864 Battle of Franklin, a Civil War bloodbath in which over 9,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were killed in one afternoon. Over a thousand of them were eventually reburied on the McGavocks' land, Carnton Plantation, and Carrie McGavock devoted much of her life to tending their graves.

Author Robert Hicks, a music publisher, art collector and preservationist, felt the story of Carrie McGavock needed to be told, but he wasn't sure at first that he should be the one to tell it.

"I tried to foist and pawn the idea on others, collaborations, walk away from it and read Russian novels -- anything to keep me from tackling it," he said in a Barnes & Noble interview. "Then one day I knew I had to do it."

Hicks, a native of South Florida, moved in 1979 to an 18th-century log cabin near Leiper's Fork, Tenn., where he still lives. In 1987, he joined the Board of Directors of Historic Carnton Plantation, where he has done everything from house restoration to hauling out the trash.

As his connection with the historic site grew, so did his curiosity about its former mistress, whom Oscar Wilde once described as "the high priestess of the temple of dead boys."

"Around the time we were seriously beginning a state-of-the-art restoration of Carnton's house and grounds, descendants of the McGavock family, who had moved out of Carnton in 1911 and had lived in the same house in Franklin ever since, opened up their family archives to us," Hicks explained in an essay on his publishers' Web site.

The scrapbooks and papers, he said, "began to suggest some answers, even while I found myself asking more questions." Among the papers were obituaries from newspapers across the country for Carrie McGavock.

"The obituaries clearly linked Carrie to the creation and maintenance of the Cemetery, but no journals or diaries were left to explain her motivation -- so, in the end, I felt that I had to sit down and explain, for myself, why she did what she did."

The resulting novel made it to the number five spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Kirkus Reviews called The Widow of the South "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."

"You'll swear you were smelling gunpowder and blood, and you may shed real tears," wrote Jeff Guinn of the Dallas Star-Telegram.

Hicks is pleased with the success of his book, but his work as a guardian of Tennessee history isn't done. More recently, Hicks has headed up Franklin's Charge, a coalition dedicated to preserving the remaining open space on and near the Franklin battlefield as a historic site.

"Why do we want to save it?" he asked in a National Geographic interview. "Because in the South's loss at Franklin, all of us won. This is where the Old South died and we were reborn as a nation."

Good To Know

"My first job was in a bookstore during college. I got the job to make enough money to pay for a dinner party for 50 friends of my parents in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary. I didn't want a penny to come out of their pockets, so I got a job."

"My passion for many years has been the preservation of Historic Carnton Plantation. It is the site of most of the novel. Simply put, Carnton, Carrie McGavock, and her cemetery are the inspiration of my writing."

"I live in a magical place: my cabin, 'Labor in Vain,' my community, the green hills of Middle Tennessee, and within my head. The entire world, both within and without, is surrounded by the stories from my father, older relatives, strangers, books, and movies. I was raised surrounded by storytellers. They've made the world I live in forever magical and rich, even within the solitude of my cabin walls."

"I am forever a southerner. By this I mean to say that I remain forever eaten up with religion, passion, history, the past, the land, and stories."

"I'm passionate about travel, but always return to my cabin and to my past. I claim little connection with Faulkner, other than the hold that the past had on him and has on me. Like him, I remain optimistic about the future, despite the turmoil of the world."

"I am a collector by nature. I've collected since I was a kid. It began with fossilized shells from our driveway to rocks and leaves and baseball cards to books, 18th-century maps of Tennessee, Tennesseana in general, southern decorative arts, to outsider art. I am surrounded by collections. A friend says that the next thing I bring home must come with a crowbar -- to get it into my cabin."

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    1. Hometown:
      Franklin, Tennessee
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 30, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      West Palm Beach, Forida

Read an Excerpt

From the Prologue


Carrie watched him go and then turned to Mariah, whom she had once owned, a gift to her from her father. She was a gift, whatever the meaning and implications of that word. Mariah had been her tether to the earth when things had spun away, when Carrie wasn't sure if there remaineda real and true life for her, and then when she wasn't sure if she wanted that life even if it existed. Things had been different once. She couldn't believe that she had ever been so . . . what? Weak? No, that wasn't it. She'd never been weak. She'd been buffeted and knocked down, like grass bent to the ground by the wind preceding a thunderstorm. She'd been slow to get up. But she did get up, eventually. There had been no choice. She was not afraid of much, and she especially wasn't afraid of God. Not anymore, not for a long time.

"Mariah, what do you see?"

A mockingbird chased a hawk across the width of the cemetery, diving and chattering at the black shadow until it was banished from whatever bit of territory the smaller bird claimed for its own.

"I see a mockingbird. And some of them yellow birds. Finches. Big old bird with claws, too."

Mariah looked past her mistress, across the field of tall grass.

424 Killed at Franklin/Mississippi

"You know that isn't what I mean."

Carrie could see the markers and the grass, and the iron fence ringing the graveyard. She could turn and see the back of her house and remember the beards on the dead generals laid out on the porch below and the keening of the wounded on the balcony above. She could see just fine. But there was more to seeing than that, she thought. It was either a failure of imagination or a slight by the Lord Himself, but in any case she could not see the things Mariah could see. Mariah could tell her about things that gave her comfort, and Carrie cared not a whit about how she came upon the knowledge.

She pointed at a grave marker in the Tennessee section. MJM, it read. In places, twigs leaned against the stones. She made a mental note to tell the yard boy about them.

"What about him? That one."

"Miss Carrie, please, ma'am. This ain't right."

Carrie stared hard at the seam of her dress, where the new thread of her latest mending stood out like a long dark cord against the faded black of her ankle-length dress. She hadn't known how to sew before the war, and she still wasn't very good at it. They would have to dye the whole thing soon.

"I would like to know about that man."

Mariah wasn't sure that what she saw in her mind was real, just the product of a fevered imagination, or maybe the work of the devil himself making her play games with the white woman whom she loved in a way she could not describe. Fragments of light and sound came to her when she let her mind drift, and the words Carrie craved formed on Mariah's lips unbidden. It was a thoughtless exercise, a pastime to while away an afternoon. The thing she did know, the only thing she knew for sure, was that Carrie believed. Mariah could feel that on her.

"I don't know what to say, ma'am."

"Yes, you do. Don't play. We're too old for that. Tell me what you see when you stare into the earth right there. Don't hold back. I know when you're holding back."

Mariah closed her eyes and went silent, hoping Carrie would forget her little obsession and keep walking. But Carrie stayed put, so Mariah began to speak.

"There a man and a boy. It sunny. They ain't working, so maybe they just home from church."

"How old?"

"The man, he a man. Got a beard. Dark, strong. He ain't old or young. The boy, he just a little one, though he think he bigger. Maybe ten. He got a fishing pole in his hand. They going to catch fish."

"Is there a woman?"

"She dead."

"How do you know that?"

"'Cause they going out fishing in they church clothes."

She heard him before she saw him. A small cough, followed by a louder, deeper cough that he tried to swallow back. She turned toward the house and there, in the path between the gravestones, stood an old man. A surprisingly old man. He was thin and pepper-haired, and his eyes were too dark for her to see where he was looking. They were set back too far in his head to distinguish them from the shadows. He stood up tall and held his old bowler in his hand. She could see him nervously massaging his knuckles under the hat, which caused a little halo of dust to rise up off the felt. He wore a long coat that was slightly too short and scuffed boots. His mouth was twisted up in what appeared to be a smirk, but which she knew was not. He watched her closely and walked toward her with the faintest hint of a limp, enough to make her heart break. The twisted and dried-out parts of him still contained just the memory of his old beauty-all the parts of him were still there, they'd just been used up. He stood before her, so close she could hear the air whistling in and out of him. She knew him immediately, as if he'd left only the day before.

"Why'd you scare that boy, Mrs. McGavock?"

"I love that boy."

"He one of yours?"

"Do I look like he could be my child?"

"I meant, is he your grandson or something? That's possible, ain't it?"

"No, he's not my grandson, just a stray off the street."

"Just a stray," the man repeated.

They paused and looked at each other, and Carrie felt angry that he'd come without warning. The feeling passed. She pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear and squinted hard at him.

"I didn't mean to insinuate anything," she said.

"I reckon I ain't had anyone insinuate anything about me in a long time. I didn't take no offense."

"But none was meant."

The old man stopped and toed at the grass with his foot. He looked around at the grave markers like he had misplaced something. He started to sway a little, and Mariah moved quickly behind him, ready to steady him if she had to, but not willing to speak or acknowledge him. He spoke again.

"I thought we decided a long time ago that folks don't always know what they mean. Or what things mean, for that matter."

Carrie considered this. "I suppose we did."

The old man bent over in a fit of coughing, slapping at his breast pocket until he found an old handkerchief to spit into. Mariah bent over him with her hand on his back and looked up at Carrie like she'd just seen something she wished she hadn't. He stared at his handkerchief, snorted dismissively, and put it away, all the while bent over like he was catching his breath.

Carrie had the feeling that she was falling. How could he be like this? This was not the man she'd known, not the man she remembered. The air spun and hummed around her.

She walked to his side and took his chin in her hand, hard, and pulled until he was looking her in the eye. Mariah cried out and tried to stop her, but Carrie waved her off. She saw him fully for the first time and reached with her other hand to wipe rheumy tears from the corners of his eyes and to feel the loose drape of his skin over sharp cheekbones. He struggled to keep from coughing in her face.

"What's the matter with you, soldier?"

She let him go, and he slowly stood up straight. He held his bowler near his mouth, just in case.

"Well, I reckon I can guess, but I ain't seen anyone who could tell me straight. Can't afford such a person. I've been thinking that, after all these years, I might finally die and not know for sure what killed me. That makes me laugh some."

Carrie said nothing, and then: "If I were to guess from your past history, I would say you'll outlive us all."

"I once thought I was cursed that way, yes, ma'am. But no more. There ain't no more curses out there. My history don't mean nothing. Not anymore, thank God."

She could picture him as a younger man, lying bleeding on the floor of her parlor and then sitting up in one of the chairs of her husband's study, staring out the window. She remembered his nose and how sharp it was in profile, how the light seemed changed after passing over it. He was like a cameo; at least that's what her mind remembered. She'd become used to him quickly, and back then she thought he'd be there forever. Then he was gone. She closed her eyes.

"If you're going to die, there's a place for you here."

"That's what I meant to ask you about."

Copyright © 2005 by Robert Hicks

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions from the Publisher
1. It seems that Carrie doesn't come alive until literally everyone around her is dying. Why do you think it took her home being taken over by the Confederate Army and turned into a hospital to awaken Carrie out of her stupor?

2. Do you believe that Zachariah really wanted to die when he picked up the colors on the battlefield? Why does Nathan Stiles spare Zachariah on the battlefield specifically, when others carrying the colors were killed? Is Zachariah grateful to be spared, or is he regretful, or a little of both, and why?

3. Does John McGavock undergo a character transformation from the beginning of the novel, when he and Theopolis encounter the gang of ruffians in the woods, to the end, when we see scenes him of him wandering around Franklin somewhat aimlessly? How do you think he views the war? How do you think he views his role, or his non-role, in the war? And how does this compare with Carrie's attitude towards the war?

4. In the author's note Robert Hicks says of Mariah, "… I have concluded that Mariah may well have been the most complete human of them all." Mariah never let her enslavement define her. Do you agree?

5. Discuss how the death of their children affected both Carrie and John. What is the difference between the attachment mothers and fathers have with their children? Do you think John would have begun drinking whether his children had died or not? And do you think Carrie had a propensity for eccentricity and seclusion?

6. When Carrie first notices Zachariah in her upstairs guest room, she remarks: "Unlike most of the men, he looked ready to die. He looked as if he were welcoming it, urging it along…I wanted his eyes on me." Why does Carrie take to Zachariah, and why does she later give him special treatment? Do you think it was purely physical attraction? Does Zachariah's welcoming of his own death conflict with Carrie's values?

7. Faith plays a large part in each character's motivations. Discuss the role of belief in a higher power and how it guides Carrie, Zachariah, and Mariah in their actions. For most of us, our belief system changes or 'grows' over the span of our lives, one way or the other. How did Carrie's faith change over the span of the novel?

8. Why do you think Carrie beats Zachariah on the porch? Were you surprised by this or did you understand it?

9. Zachariah and Carrie have an intense love affair yet it's never consummated sexually. Do you think the fact they never were physically intimate takes away or adds to their relationship, or does it matter?

10. At one point Carrie tells Mariah, "You always could have left, even when you weren't allowed. I would have never stopped you." Do you think this is true? Carrie seems to think of Mariah as her best friend, but she was really her property, a "gift" her father gave to her as a child. Do you think Carrie tries to make herself appear a better friend/owner than she really was? Discuss Carrie and Mariah's relationship. Could friendship really transcend enslavement?

11. Among the political issues leading up to the Civil War was the South's strong adherence to the doctrine of 'state's rights.' Among the issues to come out of the war was the emancipation of the enslaved in the 'slave states,' whether they had remained loyal to the union or had seceded and joined the Confederacy. Yet, neither of these political issues is ever addressed 'head-on' in the book. Why do you think that is?

12. Carrie comes from a rich, educated family. She is "learned." Zachariah is poor, and almost illiterate. Yet do you think one is wiser than the other?

Robert Hicks has said, "good writing is about transformation." We see transformation in Carrie, Zechariah and in their relationship, in John, in his and Carrie's relationship, in Mariah and her relationship with Carrie. Are we left with any sense that Mr. Baylor ever comes to any real peace about what has happened?

13. What does Carrie mean when she says the following to Zachariah: "You are my key. You will explain things I have not been able to understand…I want you to explain to me why I wanted you to live and why I was able to make you live. Because I don't understand, not really, and the answer is very important to me." What is Carrie not able to understand about herself, and what answer does she think Zachariah will be able to provide?

14. Carrie takes Eli into her home and he quickly assumes the role of a surrogate son and Winder's surrogate brother. How do Carrie's actions speak to her changing perceptions of family? Has her work running the hospital changed her maternal instincts or is she simply responding to the nature of war?

15. At the town party, Carrie remarks about how she doesn't fit in with the other women; Mrs. McEwen pokes fun of her efforts and jokingly calls her "St. Carrie." Why do these women resent Carrie, and does it bother her? Does Carrie see herself as saintly?

16. In 1894, after John has died, and Mariah, Carrie and Zachariah are all elderly, why does Zachariah not profess his love for Carrie more overtly? Over time, did his love become more of respect and admiration for her heroism, or are his feelings for her just as romantically intense?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 132 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 132 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a very real lady...

    The Widow of the South takes place during and after a bloody Civil War battle in Franklin, Tennessee. The title refers to a very real lady who's plantation house becomes a make-shift hospital for the confederate troops. When a neighbor man wants to plow his field under, the same one where the battle took place, Carrie takes it upon herself to dig up the 1,500 soldiers that lie in that field and bury them in her own. She creates a cemetery where she keeps watch over the dead and remembers them so that others can forget. This novel tells Carrie's story but also adds a fair share of fictional characters that add more element to the book for entertainment's sake.<BR/><BR/>The Battle of Franklin is over and done with in the first hundred pages. The rest of the novel is dedicated to relationships. The relationship between Carrie and a certain soldier who makes her feel alive after so many years of mourning for her three dead children. The relationship between Carrie and her slave Mariah who have been together since birth. The relationship between confederate and union, slave and freed slave, husband and wife. Maybe most importantly this is a story of introspection....Carrie's relationship with herself. She craves meaning and the significance of life and she finds it in Zachariah, a worn out hero of the war who loses a leg in the battle and finds life again at the McGavock plantation hospital.<BR/><BR/>This is a well researched historical novel surrounding a not-so-well-known lady who devoted her life in caring for the wounded and then the dead in the aftermath of the five bloodiest hours of the Civil War. The Widow of the South is a beautifully written story with characters who have real emotional depth. I'd really like to see more books come from this author!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    Greatest story written!

    Shared this with everyone I could! Read this book in three days, gave it to my mom and she loved it. For anyone who wants to feel the love, fear and dedication that true southern woman went thtough. Curl up and enjoy!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    fantastic historical fiction...

    Well written....didn't want it to end....looking forward to his next book

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    I stopped reading this book when Carrie McGavock, a character ba

    I stopped reading this book when Carrie McGavock, a character based on a real person, beat a wounded soldier with a crutch. This rambling tome insults the memory of the McGavock family, and of the men and women who lived in Williamson County during those turbulent years. Sullying the life of Mrs. McGavock by having her engaging in an affair with a man outside of marriage was just too much for me to stomach. Mr. Hicks should be ashamed. He, at least, should have changed the names and location.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    I think the heroin has rolled over in her grave!

    The author admits that the wounded soldier was put in their for interest; but, I am glad she wasn't alive.....I don't think she would have liked the romantic interest aspect. Other than that it was a fantastic book and if you ever have a chance to go see the plantation and cemetery, do, it is absolutely fantastic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2010

    Ugh, worst book I read this year

    Dewy-eyed, sentimental, badly written romantic trash. It never rang true. And his portrayal of contented slaves on the plantation and in town is just awful. I finally understood why he wrote this gooey southern apology - the plantation still exists and Mr. Hicks is on its board of directors.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

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    I was disappointed with this book. I didn't see the need for the "romance", if that's what you can call it, between the main character Carrie and Zachariah Cashwell. The author never really shows what caused the connection between Carrie and one of the soldiers, Zachariah Cashwell, or what exactly the connection between Carrie and Zachariah was. Also, the way the author wrote the Carrie character made her seem like she wasn't all there, mentally. She lost three out of five of her children, which is incredibly sad, but she seemed to forget that she still had two living children. The author tried to show that having the Canton house become a hospital and Carrie having wounded men to take care of somehow brought her "back to life" but I didn't really see that in the writing. It would make more sense for her to realize that she still had two living children to take care of to bring her "back to life."

    It's as if the author wanted to tell the story of Franklin and Canton during the Civil War but ruined it with his rendering of Carrie, which probably doesn't do the real Carrie McGavock justice, and thought that throwing bits and pieces of a so-called romance into the book would make it more interesting. For me, it didn't.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2006

    Not exciting

    Mr. Hicks wrote a story about a manic/ depressive woman who only came out of her shell when her plantation house was turned into a hospital. She is mourning the loss of two of her children while she ignores her other two living children. While this book is based on a true story, I cannot fathom why it took 388 pages to get to the point! It was not exciting, it wasn't even entertaining. It was merely a story about some really disturbed people after one battle in a small town in Tennessee. The main character did accomplish one good thing-the burial of the soldiers killed in the Battle of Franklin. The authors note is the best part of the book. I was sorely disappointed!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2005

    Boring Book

    The writing style is absolutely boring. The story is simply a tired redo of many stories retelling the 'horrors' of slavery, and generally degrading the South and a culture long dead and buried. Another 'beat up the Old South' book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2005

    Widow of the South

    Most of this book is fiction which may mislead many about the real Carrie McGavock. The writing style of Mr. Hicks is tedious and tiring. I found myself skimming many of the pages just trying to finish the book. I don't recommend this book.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    Some good, some bad

    I visited Carnton before this novel was written, so I was excited when I saw it was the setting of this novel. Some parts were good, some parts were just plain weird. For example the herione almost beats her love interest to death...and it doesn't end the relationship! The end of the novel was interesting so I guess I am glad I stuck through to the end, but I was left feeling the novel could have been better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013


    Frequently there are well-written historical novels that are a pleasure to read. Unfortunately this fictional novel was not. I found the story tedious.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    I really loved reading this book. I found myself thinking about

    I really loved reading this book. I found myself thinking about these people and their situation for days and days afterwards. He was really able to make the events come alive for me and i would highly recommend it
    It was so eye opening to read and think about all of these people and what they were living through and how it affected them. Mr. HIcks was able to do this in a real and meaningful way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013


    I am a real fan of books taking place in the south and during the Civil War. This book is a total disapointment. The writing goes on and on and the story seems to go no where fast. The fact that this story is based on a real character makes it even sadder.
    Unfortunately, I also purchased another one of Mr. Hick's books, A Separate Country. I have not read it yet, but I am not excited to start it. I really enjoy reading all the books a author writes, one after the other.
    Signed a disappointed reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    Love it!

    I loved this book! I have read it several times and listened to it on audio cd many times. I love the story and the history! Beautiful job at combining fact and fiction to weave this beautiful story!!! I can't wait to travel to Franklin to visit the home and burial grounds! Love it, can't say enough about it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    Great reading .... and I want to visit Carnton Plantation and t

    Great reading .... and I want to visit Carnton Plantation and the cemetery, to make the book really come to life.

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  • Posted August 15, 2012

    Would not recommend but

    It is not necessarily a bad read. Just not my cup of tea. Did not care for the storyline.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    great book!

    I really enjoyed this book. Thought provoking and very interesting.

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  • Posted January 17, 2012

    Very Good!

    I have never been very interested in details of the Civil War, that is until I read this book. Historical fiction based on the Battle of Franklin, brings the lives lost and historical detail to the forefront. Franklin, Tennessee, is calling me, to visit the battle ground and Carnton, and to experience, even on a minute scale, a piece of our American history. Parts of the book were slow but overall, really enjoyed this novel.

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  • Posted September 22, 2011

    Very good read

    I enjoyed this book even though I found it very dark. I work at a library and bought it for my Nook and have recommended it to several patrons who also love historical fiction as much as I do.

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