SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 RUBERY INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD
The first novel from multi-award winning short-story writer Richard Buxton, Whirligig is at once an outsider’s odyssey through the battle for Tennessee, a touching story of impossible love, and a portrait of America at war with itself. Self-interest and conflict, betrayal and passion, all fuse into a fateful climax.
Shire leaves his home and his life in Victorian England for the sake of a childhood promise, a promise that will pull him into the bleeding heart of the American Civil War and through the bloody battlefields of the West, where he will discover a second home for his loyalty.
Clara believes she has escaped from a predictable future of obligation and privilege, but her new life in the Appalachian Hills of Tennessee is decaying around her. In the mansion of Comrie, long hidden secrets are being slowly exhumed by a war that comes ever closer.
About the Author
Whirligig is his first novel and the opening book of Shire's Union trilogy. Current projects include the second book, The Copper Road, as well as preparing to publish a collection of short stories.
To learn more about Richard's writing visit https://www.richardbuxton.net.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is absolutely superb. As a lover of history, my shelves are filled with books set in the Tudor Era, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and so on. Books set in the Civil War are rather non-existent, however, so I was really looking forward to diving into the setting of Whirligig. (Also, the main character’s name is Shire. I would have read the book on that, alone. Shire…don’t you just want to meet him, now?) First, I need to point out that this isn’t a “war” story. This is most definitely a story about Shire and his childhood friend Clara, both from England. After Clara marries, her new husband moves her to Tennessee, right as the Civil War is raging. Shire, in an effort to keep a childhood promise that he made to Clara, leaves England for the United States. His hope is to travel to Tennessee via the Union Army. This is what Whirligig is about. About one man’s determination to keep a promise. About incredibly relatable, flawed and human characters. About breathtaking, raw situations and circumstances. It is fact and fiction woven together perfectly, leaving the reader with an utterly brilliant novel. Bottom Line: I am thrilled that Whirligig is going to be a trilogy, because I need more.
Richard Buxton’s debut novel is accessible historical fiction at its very best. Whirligig is the first in a series (Shire’s Union) and is the story of a young Englishman thrown unwittingly into the American Civil War. We follow Shire from rural England to the heart of the American South on his quest to keep a promise to his childhood friend, Clara, and save her from making a disastrous marriage. She’s the daughter of a Duke, Shire is a village schoolteacher, yet they’re both stubborn, brave and driven by their beliefs. Clara is to marry an estate owner in Comrie and finds herself trapped there when the Civil War begins. She struggles to fit into a world where her maid is a slave and her fiancé treats the estate workers as possessions. In the States Shire forges new friendships after joining up with the Union army. He has to prove his worth as he reluctantly learns to become a soldier. He never forgets his promise to Clara but finds his loyalty torn between her and his comrades. Buxton’s writing is fluid and immersive, whether he’s writing about politics and prejudices of 19th century England or the chaos of a battlefield you feel totally absorbed in the world he’s created. Read Buxton’s short stories and you’ll realise here is a master storyteller. Whirligig is a wonderful fusion of the storytelling skills of Bernard Cornwell with the lyrical prose of Charles Frazier. If you enjoyed Cold Mountain then you will love Whirligig.