History takes on vivid life in the stunning first full-length installment of USA TODAY bestselling Tamera Alexander’s new series, The Carnton Novels.
“The beautifully-drawn characters and rich history in With This Pledge work seamlessly to demonstrate that Christ’s love and romantic love can triumph even in our darkest moments.” —Lynn Austin, bestselling author of Legacy of Mercy
What can a woman—a mere governess—do against the scourge of slavery?
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clouston’s quietly held principles oppose those of the Southern Cause—but when forty thousand soldiers converge on the fields of Franklin, Tennessee, the war demands an answer. The Carnton home where she is governess is converted into a Confederate field hospital, and Lizzie is called upon to assist the military doctor with surgeries that determine life or death. Faced with the unimaginable, she must summon fortitude, even as she fears for the life of Towny, her fiancé and lifelong friend.
As a young soldier lies dying in Lizzie’s arms, she vows to relay his final words to his mother, but knows little more than the boy’s first name. That same night, decorated Mississippi sharpshooter Captain Roland Ward Jones extracts a different promise from Lizzie: that she intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate his leg.
Lizzie is nothing if not a woman of her word, earning the soldiers’ respect as she tends to the wounded within Carnton’s walls. None is more admiring than Captain Jones, who doesn’t realize she is pledged to another. But as Lizzie’s heart softens toward the Confederate captain, she discovers that his moral ground is at odds with her own. Now torn between love, principles, and promises made, she struggles to be true to her heart while standing for what she knows is right—no matter the cost.
From the pages of history and the personal accounts of those who endured the Battle of Franklin, Tamera Alexander weaves the real-life love letters between Captain Roland Ward Jones and Miss Elizabeth Clouston into a story of unlikely romance first kindled amid the shadows of war.
“Tamera Alexander has once again given readers a beautifully written story full of strong characters and tender romance—all while staying true to the actual history of the people and events she describes. From the horrors of war to the hope of blossoming love, Lizzie and Roland’s story will live in my heart for a very long time.” —Anne Mateer, author of Playing by Heart
About the Author
Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, including the Christy Award (two-time winner, seven-time finalist), the RITA Award (two-time winner, four-time finalist), the Carol Award, the Maggie Award, the Booksellers Best Award, and Library Journal's top distinction, among others. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband now reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation, the setting of Tamera’s two USA Today bestselling Southern series.
Read an Excerpt
NOVEMBER 30, 1864 CARNTON PLANTATION FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE 21 MILES SOUTH OF NASHVILLE
"And this, children, is a drawing of the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Which is a very long way from Franklin, Tennessee." Lizzie read fascination in young Hattie's eyes, and in those of Sallie, the cousin visiting from Nashville. Yet seven-year-old Winder only stared glumly out the window.
Lizzie lowered her voice. "This pyramid here is where a mighty Egyptian pharaoh, or king, and his queen are buried. And it's full of secret rooms."
Winder's head whipped back around. "Secret rooms?"
She nodded. "Archaeologists recently discovered some new rooms in the upper portion of the pyramid. They'd been hidden for centuries. See this drawing ..."
As she continued teaching, she glanced at the clock on the side table, expecting Tempy to bring the children's midmorning refreshment anytime now. A summerlike breeze fluttered the curtains on the open jib window leading to a second-story balcony, and the sunshine and warmth beckoned them outside. Perhaps she would take advantage of the beautiful weather and conduct the afternoon classes under the Osage orange tree out front. After so many weeks of rain and cold, the mild weather was a welcome change. Especially for the end of November.
A few moments later she heard Tempy's footsteps on the staircase. "Thank you for listening so intently, children. And for your excellent questions, girls. And now it's refreshment time!"
Tempy knocked twice on the door, then entered. "Mornin', little ones!"
Winder hopped down from his chair. "What are we havin' today, Tempy?"
Lizzie cleared her throat and gave him a pointed look.
"I mean ... Thank you, Tempy, for whatever it is you made," he corrected, still trying to peer up and over the side of the tray.
Tossing him a wink, Tempy set the tray on the table. "I made y'all some cinnamon rolls this mornin', Master Winder. You go on now and help yourself. And get a glass of that milk too." She included the girls in her nod, and the children took their snacks and hurried outside to the balcony overlooking the front yard. "Miss Clouston, I brought you one too, ma'am."
Lizzie accepted the roll and took a bite, then sighed and briefly closed her eyes. The bread, still warm from the oven, all but melted in her mouth, the buttery icing slathered on top a concoction of sugary goodness. "Oh, Tempy, these are even better than usual. Thank you."
"My pleasure, ma'am." Tempy eyed the globe on the table and shook her head. "Look at all them places. Hard to believe all that's out there somewhere."
Lizzie heard something akin to yearning in the woman's tone. She'd noticed Tempy gazing at the globe before, but without comment. Mindful of any icing on her fingers, Lizzie turned the globe to show North America, then pointed to Tennessee. "That's where we are right now. And this" — she turned the globe again and pointed to the northeast corner of Africa —" is where these pyramids are located." Lizzie held up the image and gave a condensed version of what she'd taught the children. "It's in a place called Egypt."
Tempy eyed her. "You tellin' me a fancy king's buried in that thing?"
Lizzie nodded. "Along with his queen."
"Mmmph ... It don't look so far away on this ball, but I'm guessin' it'd take us a while to get there."
"Yes, quite a while. And we'd have to traverse an ocean in the process." Lizzie drew an invisible line from Tennessee across the Atlantic Ocean to the general region of Giza.
Tempy shook her head. "So much world the good Lord made. Wonder how he ever thought it all up."
Lizzie moved her finger a little to the right, knowing Tempy would appreciate this. "Do you see this tiny portion of land here?"
Tempy squinted. "Yes, ma'am. But only just."
"That's Palestine. The part of the world where the Lord was born and where he dwelt during his life here on earth."
"Pal-estine," Tempy repeated slowly and said it twice more as though wanting to feel the word on her lips. "I was told he was from a place called Bethlehem."
Lizzie nodded. "You're right, he was. Bethlehem is located in this area."
For the longest time Tempy studied the spot on the globe, then traced an arthritic forefinger over it, her expression holding wonderment. And not for the first time, Lizzie felt a firm tug on her conscience.
By Tempy's own admission, the older woman had been at Carnton for nigh onto forever, serving as the McGavocks' cook. Lizzie had often wanted to ask Tempy about her life here. About this war. And about being the only slave left behind when Colonel McGavock sent the other forty-three south three years ago, far from the reach of the Federal Army that would have freed them.
She felt certain that Tempy would have leapt at the chance to learn her letters, but teaching a slave to read and write was against the law. Here in the South, at least. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln nearly two years ago, hadn't made much difference in that regard. So Lizzie had never offered. And in the eight years she had lived and worked here at Carnton, she'd never confided in Tempy her opinions on slavery. She'd never had the courage. After all, slavery wasn't a topic a "properly bred" woman deigned to broach. And certainly not with a slave.
And what would stating her differing views have changed? Nothing. Lizzie held back a sigh. She was a governess, not a landowner. She couldn't vote. She wasn't even mistress of her own home — yet, at least. She had no voice. And sharing her opinions would have only driven a wedge between her and the McGavock family, which was a relationship she cherished. Being so forthcoming might well cost her the position here, and that was something she could ill afford, especially now with the war on. Still, even when considering her reasons, she felt a sense of shame.
She wondered sometimes if she shouldn't have gone north all those years ago when she'd first considered it. She could have found a place with a family in Boston or Philadelphia, surely. Yet that would have meant leaving behind her family, her friends, all that was familiar. So she'd stayed, and tried not to dwell on what she couldn't change.
"You teachin' them children 'bout all them places, ma'am?" Tempy glanced at the globe.
"I'm doing my best. Although with so pretty a day, it's difficult to maintain their attention."
"Days like this don't come round too often, 'specially this time of year."
Lizzie dabbed the corners of her mouth, checking for icing. Then she lowered her voice, mindful of the open jib window. "I'm thinking of moving outside for a while so we can enjoy the sunshine."
"If you want, ma'am, I could fix you all a picnic lunch and you could eat out there."
Lizzie nodded. "That's a wonderful idea! I'll use that as an enticement for them to remain attentive until then."
The promise worked like a charm. Following a delightful lunch, the children helped clean up the picnic without complaint. Winder needed a little prompting, rambunctious boy that he was. Still, he pitched right in when asked. Lizzie sat on the blanket beside Sallie watching as Winder and Hattie chased each other beneath the shade of the Osage orange tree. A wave of affection for them swept through her, nearly stealing her breath. She'd known Hattie before the girl had turned two. And Winder she'd known since birth. She loved them as though they were her own.
The warmth within her faded by a degree. Someday, Lord willing, she and Towny would have children of their own. A flicker of guilt accompanied the thought of Towny. But as she always did, Lizzie tried to set it aside. After all, women married for a whole variety of reasons — money, prestige, social standing, security. So was marrying for the hope of having children really so bad?
She studied the bare ring finger on her left hand and thought of what Towny had said in his last letter almost a month ago. The next time he saw her, he'd written, he had something special to give her. She wondered if it was his mother's ring. Having known his mother, Marlene — God rest her soul — Lizzie found the thought endearing. Then again, having known Towny's parents and the close relationship they'd shared, she only hoped that if Towny planned on giving her that ring, she would prove worthy of it.
It would be wonderful to see him again after all these months. Would he be much changed? Would he consider her so? Had his intent to marry her waned in any way? Did he ever entertain the same questions about their future as she did? A warm breeze rustled the leaves overhead, and Lizzie checked the chatelaine watch pinned to her shirtwaist. It was later than she'd thought. She ushered the children back into the schoolroom upstairs and was closing the door behind her when Tempy caught her attention.
"A letter come for you, ma'am. From your Lieutenant Townsend." Tempy handed it to her. "I hope he's all right. He's such a good man."
Your Lieutenant Townsend. Tempy had taken to calling Towny that in recent months, but the term still struck an odd note within Lizzie. "Thank you for bringing this to me. And yes, he is a good man." She checked the date stamped on the envelope. Only a week ago. Mail delivery had been quick this time. She wondered where he was.
"He'll make you a good husband too, ma'am."
"Yes. Yes, he will," Lizzie answered. She'd told herself the same thing many times.
Tempy tilted her head and studied her in the manner she sometimes did. A manner that always caused Lizzie to ponder whether the woman could read every blessed thought in her head. And, even more, if Tempy questioned whether Lizzie herself was as well acquainted with those thoughts as she should be.
"Well, enjoy your letter." Tempy dipped her head and took her leave.
Lizzie closed the door and laid the envelope on the table's edge. It would have to wait for now. The first hour passed swiftly as they reviewed grammar lessons, then transitioned to penmanship. Hattie and Sallie both possessed a beautiful hand. But Winder's cursive, bless him, looked more like chicken scratch. Lizzie sat with him while he painstakingly practiced each letter, then she whispered, "Well done," and tousled the hair on his head. She did love a good challenge. Next they moved to arithmetic. Lizzie wrote addition problems on a slate, and each child took a turn solving two or three. Arithmetic was Winder's favorite subject, and to Lizzie's joy he excelled in it. Finally she set them to working problems on their own and reached for Towny's letter.
She opened the envelope. Only one sheet of paper within. Her gaze scanned the page, and her eyes widened. He'd been brief, but not evasive. Quite the contrary. Lizzie felt her face go warm.
Dearest Lizzie Beth,
I'm counting the days until I see you again and sincerely hope that that number will be a small one. I've taken to dreaming of you in recent days and those dreams are so real I can almost feel you beside me. To say I'm eager to make you my wife would be a dilution of my fierce affections. It would be like saying that Tennessee summers can be a mite warm. Yet as warm as we know those summers to be, they are nothing compared to the fire that burns within me for you, and that seems to grow stronger with each passing day.
Lizzie looked up to see if the children were watching. Then she realized how silly that was. As though in watching her read the letter, they would somehow be made privy to its contents. She fingered the high collar of her shirtwaist and continued.
Tucker's Brigade is being ordered farther south, but I pray we make our way back to Franklin soon. Hopefully by spring. I want us to be married as soon as possible, Lizzie. That is my wish and I hope yours is the same. I apologize for my brevity, but I must see this posted before we move out. Please pass along my kindest regards to the McGavocks and their children. When you see my father, please inform him that his son is well, is fighting for the land he cherishes, but misses home and all the treasures it holds. Namely you, my dearest Lizzie.
Most affectionately yours, Towny
Any question about whether he'd changed his mind about their pending nuptials had been erased. And once again Towny had managed to surprise her. She'd last seen him in January, when he'd asked her to marry him. To say she'd been surprised then as well was an understatement. One minute they'd been walking back from town after a visit with her family — discussing the war and how he'd managed to secure a brief furlough home — and the next thing she knew, he'd turned and grabbed hold of her hands.
"I know this seems sudden, Lizzie, but I've been thinking about it for some time. I think I've loved you since I first laid eyes on you that day at the mercantile. You with your brown hair in pigtails, eating a peppermint stick. You would hardly look at me, until I did a somersault with no hands." His boyish grin held traces of youth. "Once we're husband and wife, I know we can make a good life together. We already know each other at our best and worst, and that gives us a great advantage over most couples. So please, say you'll be my wife? At least consider it?"
She had agreed and then sought her mother's counsel, only to discover that Towny had already asked her father's permission for her hand, which he had heartily given. Her parents were overjoyed. And looking at it practically, she'd realized Towny was right. They did already know each other very well. And they were both twenty-eight years old. It was well past time for her to wed. No one else had sought her hand in marriage, and she had no reason to think that would change, especially with the war claiming the lives of so many men.
But the real reason she'd agreed to marry Towny — the reason she'd not shared with him — made her feel false inside. She wanted children of her own, and the time for that to happen was swiftly passing her by. She smoothed a hand over her midsection. Soon Hattie and Winder would be grown, and she'd have to move on to another house to raise someone else's children. Either that or become a burden to her parents. So ... she'd said yes.
And she was terribly fond of Towny. She could honestly say she loved him. Not, perhaps, in the way she'd always imagined she would love a husband. But love could grow from friendship. Or so she'd been told. And she and Blake Rupert Townsend — or Towny, the nickname she'd bestowed upon him as a boy — had been the best of friends since childhood. So she'd given him her pledge. And Towny would make a fine husband. She'd thought so for many years. She'd simply never imagined he would be hers.
Lizzie folded the letter and put it away, then checked the time. She'd allow the children another five or ten minutes to complete their tasks. In the meantime, she'd fetch the novel she'd left in Winder's bedroom down the hallway. She intended to start reading it to them tonight before bedtime. She'd saved it specially for this time of year.
"Miss Clouston," Sallie said before Lizzie shut the door.
"Could you help me with this one before you go?" The girl pointed to her slate.
"Would you help me," Lizzie gently prompted. "And yes, I'd be happy to help you. But I want you to try to figure it out first on your own. I'll prompt you if you begin to do it incorrectly. And feel free to work the problem aloud, if that helps you."
She smoothed a hand over Sallie's long blond hair and gave her an encouraging nod, then tugged a strand of the equally long golden hair of Clara, the porcelain doll the child took with her everywhere. Sallie grinned and set to work, whispering faintly to herself. Following a recent buildup of Federal troops in Nashville, Sallie's parents had asked the McGavocks if they could bring Sallie to Carnton for a few days to keep her distanced from the war. It was nice to have an additional student to teach, and since Hattie and Sallie were close cousins, they were enjoying every moment together.
Sallie finished working the problem and peered up.
"Well done!" Lizzie whispered, and the girl's eyes sparkled. "By working it aloud, you were able to do it all by yourself. Now see if you can complete the rest, and I'll be back shortly."
Lizzie closed the door, then waited a few seconds to make certain Winder didn't start jabbering at the girls the way he sometimes did when she left the room. But blessed quiet reigned, and she sighed. Days like these were what governesses lived for.
She headed for Winder's room across the hall, then remembered she'd left the blanket they'd used for the picnic folded on the front porch. Best get that first. She descended the staircase to the main floor and heard the clock in the family parlor chime. Two o'clock. She might dismiss the children early today and they could all take a walk down to the Saw Mill Creek, or maybe even into town to get penny candy at the mercantile. They could stop by her parents' house for a quick visit too, and —(Continues…)
Excerpted from "With This Pledge"
Copyright © 2019 Tamera Alexander.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a wonderful story that I definitely recommend!! Tamera Alexander has done it again! I totally love all of her books and this one was no less! Elizabeth -Lizzie- Clouston is a governess at the Carnton Estate in 1876 during the Battle of Franklin Tenesse, in the Southern part of the war. The Carnton's family plantation is taken over to make of it a hospital for the wounded soldiers, and Lizzie is required to assist the doctor in surgeries and healing the wounded. She is bethrothed to her childhood best friend, and although she doesn't love him romantically, she wants a family and thinks her marriage will be a good one. That is, if he ever comes back alive from war... Things get complicated when she meets Captain Roland Ward Jones and assists him in recovering from a serious injury. She promises to help him convince the doctor not to amputate his legs, although his life is really at risk. But she never expects to grow feelings for him. But there are so many things that make clear that their relationship is not to be: for starters, he owns slaves and Lizzie firmly believes in her conscience that that is wrong; then, she is pledged to another one, who is fighting in the war. She cannot take back her word, can she? This is a beautiful and realistic story of this specific historical circumstance. I learned that Tamera based her story of real letters between these two characters. It seems well researched and it has a lot of historical detail that makes it all the more real. I loved the characters, and found myself rooting for them and their "forbidden" love. Lizzie was strong and courageous, yet vulnerable to so much pain. Roland was a true hero too who deals with his injury and pain with admirable strength. There were so many hard situations and crude scenes, but never too graphic. I think she did it all with respect and hope. I ended feeling inspired and I loved how Lizzie helps Roland reach out to God more freely and letting go of his guilt. It really kept me engaged, and I couldn't stop until the end, which was very satisfying. I learned a lot about the war between the States in a very riveting way. I definitely recommend this novel to lovers of the historical romance genre. It was masterfully done! Congrats Tamera! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Deeply moving. It's November 30, 1864, Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee. Lizzie is the Governess to two children there. They look out and see an army forming between their house and the neighbors. The southern army here, federal army drenched in there. Around 20,000 men. The battle was fought over 2 1/2 miles, with nearly 10,000 killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Read that last sentence again. Can you really imagine it? Their house quickly fills up with wounded. They tear up all the cloth they have - clothes, bed linens, towels, even underwear and Lizzies wedding dress, for bandages. She has skills learned from her father who is a pharmacist, and is able to help the surgeon. She learns that her fiancé is somewhere on the battlefield and goes to look for him - getting an even bigger shock of her life. The hem of her dress is soaked 6 inches with the blood. (Yet just a fraction of what Armageddon will be.) It literally came to their doorstep. Even the children join in helping the wounded in the house. The depth of sorrow and pain, and the eventual joy and love of the living. Roland was one of the soldiers who had been battered, both legs and much of a hand. He and Lizzie have a special bond that grows through the story, as they both learn how to live with all the changes to their world, their lives. Since they lost the battle there, all of the soldiers on the losing side are supposed to go to Federal prison. They are given permission to stay until better healed, in the care of the McGavocks and local Catholic Sisters. Their mending is difficult, and gives them all a chance to know each other better. Relationships are forged between them all, including two black slaves. An incredible story telling from different angles of those involved. Well done, illustrating the incredible number of people involved. Gettysburg - another area not that very far from where I live. #WithThisPledge #TameraAlexander #NetGalley #ChristianHistoricalFiction
An eloquent tale of a real-life Civil War romance Tamera Alexander has once again captured the feeling and history of the Civil War-era South by incorporating real historical figures into her latest novel, With This Pledge. It’s fascinating to read about the journeys the main characters take – Lizzie Clouston is betrothed to her childhood friend, Towny, and she is a Southern woman who opposes the Southern Cause. Captain Roland Jones not only supports the cause, but is also fighting for it. Alexander deftly weaves this historical tale based on actual letters written between Lizzie and Roland in the 1860s. I appreciate her skill in building this story from real-life events, and including the letters in the text transports us to another time and place, where people wrote eloquently to each other of their struggles, hopes, and feelings. She brings to life the very real struggle people faced at the time over what would happen when slavery was abolished, as well as the challenges many of us face today regarding where to place our trust during bleak and perplexing times. I strongly recommend this book, as well as anything else written by Tamera Alexander. At just over 400 pages, I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into a past that’s difficult for us to imagine. I found the descriptions of the post-battle surgeries fascinating, and the lightweight explanations of battle strategy to be helpful in understanding what happened. Alexander’s characters do a marvelous job of clearly illustrating both sides of the conflict that nearly tore America apart, thus helping us understand more about our country’s history and about the people who lived it. The book discussion questions and recipes at the end of the book add an element of fun too. I’m eagerly awaiting book two! Thanks to HarperCollins Christian Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions expressed are my own.
Tamera Alexander takes historical research and turns it into a fantastic story that touches the heart on many different levels. With this Pledge is one of her best! It is set during and immediately after the Battle of Franklin (TN), one of the turning points of the Civil War. When Confederate wounded are taken to the Carnton plantation, the McGavocks, along with their governess Lizzie and cook Tempy, freely share their home and stored food with these men. Lizzie assists the surgeon as he operates on the wounded. When Captain Roland Jones makes her promise not to let the doctor amputate one of his legs, a bond is formed between them that grows as he slowly recovers. But Roland is a slaveholder and Lizzie believes slavery is immoral. Can they find common ground on which to build a relationship? There are several themes running through the book. The first is the brevity of life. Another theme is the horror of war and the cost in lives and destruction it extracts. The third is that one should live a life of honoring your pledge and doing what is right no matter what the cost. Woven throughout the themes is the faith in God that carried these people through horrific times. This is a book I will read again.
I have been looking forward to this book since Christmas at Carnton, and with good reason. Tamera Alexander knocks it out of the park with this one. This story beautifully depicts the horrors of the civil war and the triumph of love and hope. I love that the letters represented were actual, historical letters. My medical background allowed me to be fully present to the tragedies that Lizzie experienced and the realities and transformations that occurred in the convalescent phase of the soldiers. Lizzie and Roland both captured my heart as they wrestled to be the person God had designed them to be. They both found their strength, their voice, and their purpose in terrifying and uncertain days. The supporting characters were well written as well and I found myself just as caught up in their stories as I was in Lizzie's and Roland's. For fans of Tamera Alexander, love, hope, civil war, and redemption, With This Pledge is a must read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
With This Pledge #1 Carnton by Tamera Alexander Franklin, Tennessee 1864… The Civil War comes marching right across the spacious yards of the Carnton home and the lives of everyone there are forever changed. The Carnton's governess, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clouston, finds herself helping the wounded in a way she never envisioned. Does she have the stamina to do all that is required of her? What of the men injured in battle, will their lives ever go back to a “normal” way of life or will their injuries follow them home—if they make it home? Captain Roland Jones is one of many wounded soldiers that Lizzie cares for. He is concerned about his men, how the war will end and what that will mean for them all. Lizzie and Roland are drawn to each other but there are commitments and obstacles that may prevent them from developing a deeper relationship. What plans does God have for them? The battle in Franklin, Tennessee really happened—called the bloodiest battle of the Civil War—and both of the main characters are based on real people and their experiences. With historical accuracy Tamera Alexander weaves a powerful story with such vivid detail the reader is transported back in time among the characters. As a retired RN I am especially interested in the medicinal and medical practices of that time. The detailed descriptions of the doctors performing surgery in such devastating conditions was so realistic it was as if I was there helping administer the chloroform. I cried along with Lizzie at different parts of the story and prayed along with her for all in her care. I appreciate the spiritual elements woven throughout the story-line and the impact following God in all areas of her life has, not only on Lizzie, but those around her. Tamera Alexander includes historical notes giving the reader details about the actual occurrences portrayed in this story. With This Pledge is a powerful, emotion-filled story that will stay with me for some time. ~I received an ARC copy of this book from the author/publisher (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~
With This Pledge is a masterpiece – a literary work of art that, like an intricate painting, engages your senses as you discover more and more through its complexity, and it forever lingers in your thoughts. Through what must have been exhaustive research, Tamera Alexander has fleshed out real-life events and characters into a novel that entertains, resonates with the reader, and challenges your thinking. With This Pledge ranks among the most moving of Alexander’s novels and is the first to go on this year’s “best of the best” list. "Odd how war had a way of leveling life. Of making what once seemed so important – not quite so significant. And in turn, it made what truly mattered – people, taking care of one another, life – of utmost urgency." Set in Franklin, Tennessee, With This Pledge is a story of hope in the midst of tragedy, multilayered in both characters and plot. Viewing a devastating battle in the distance from the balcony of the plantation where she works as governess, Lizzie is drawn into the harsh aftermath of war as the home becomes a hospital. The atmosphere of tragedy, grief and loss is palpable – as is that of strength, courage and sacrifice. Through Alexander’s exquisite writing, the romance of Roland and Lizzie is a touching bright spot in the midst of turmoil. In a war where North and South both believed God was on their side, where atrocities were committed on both sides, Alexander’s writing challenges conventional thinking about the morality of slavery and leaves readers with much to reflect upon. And so relevant for us today is the fact that believing in God doesn’t prevent asking the timeless question of Where is God in the midst of all this? Very highly recommended. I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
The opening scenes of With This Pledge show an ordinary day, a governess teaching her students in their home. This home is Carnton located in Tennessee during the Civil War. This day turns out not to be not so ordinary when the day turns dark as the war erupts all around the plantation and the wounded begin coming into the home. This story at times can be hard to read and I can’t even imagine how hard it would have been to live during that time, to be that up close and personal with the war, the terribly wounded, and the casualties all around. These were people and parts of them were being amputated in mass quantity to try to save their lives. Again this is not a light read and the author puts us right there in the organized chaos and feeling the emotions that Lizzie is experiencing and showing us through her eyes the calamity that has occurred. I really liked Lizzie’s character and the strength she uses to stand up under such horrible pressure to be the hope and defender of these Confederate men, while still showing herself true to her beliefs that slavery is wrong and that the North will win. Enter very injured in body, yet strong in spirit Captain Roland Ward Jones who knows without a doubt he is going to live. He has already tasted of very personal tragedy and this war he fought was what he thought was best for his country. I enjoyed the friendship that bloomed between these two and eventually the love that became unshakable. I knew little of this battle where the South experienced such great loss and I was intrigued that this story was about real life folks and we get to glimpse some of the letters that were written. I appreciate the author’s great care and research that brought these characters and their stories back to life again. I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
I absolutely love Tamera Alexander books and will go out of my way to find one to read. This book was no different. The cover pulled me in and the back cover synopsis had me intrigued. The story was written well, almost too well in it’s descriptions of the war scene. The entire story is focused on the war, the men and the injuries that they incurred in the battles. What Lizzie see’s and experiences as a volunteer. The story is Lizzie and the young man that dies in her arms. He leaves behind cryptic clues and Lizzie wants to let his family know what happened to him. While volunteering, Lizzie meets up with Captain Roland who is also injured. They become friends and possibly more. Again, as always with Tamera Alexander’s books, the stories are well written and full of historical information. However, this is probably one of her books that I won’t be keeping to read again at a future date. The graphic descriptions of war just wasn’t my thing. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through BookLook Bloggers.
Tamera Alexander used the letters from the real Lizzie Clouston and Captain Roland Jones along with historical and personal accounts to weave this fascinating story. I thought With This Pledge was well-written with gentle pacing. With This Pledge is filled with rich historical details along with descriptions of the clothing, homes, conveyances, battles, wounds soldiers suffered and much more. The battle scenes are realistic along with the injuries the soldiers received. Many people had conflicted feelings about the war as evidenced by Lizzie. Slavery was a contentious issue. Owning people was wrong, but Southerners needed the slaves to work their plantations and they could not afford to pay wages to the number of workers needed. The book is brought to life thanks to the descriptive writing. The religious content is strong with our main characters being Christians who share their faith and live to set an example to others. I like that the author included books that were popular during this time period like A Christmas Carol. The romance between Lizzie and Roland is sweet. It plays out softly, naturally and respectfully. The dialogue suited the time period with its formality and word choices. I am giving With This Pledge 4 out of 5 stars. There were some areas that were not as engaging (battle details for example) and I would find myself skimming the text for the next intriguing section. Readers will enjoy this sweeping historical romance its multifaceted story and relatable, heartwarming characters.
The Battle of Franklin brought Life brought drastic and immediate changes for the residents of Carnton, as told in this fictional account of real-life events and real-life people. I appreciate the research the author did to bring Lizzie's story to the modern world. (In my mind it's Lizzie's story.) I admired the strength Lizzie shows during and after that day. The author does an excellent job describing the horrors of the battlefield and its aftermath without being gratuitously graphic. The impact on the family is very well written too. The way Lizzie and Roland's relationship deloped was fascinating. I recommend this book to all those that love Civil War history with a bit of real-life romance on the side. I received a paperback ARC of this book from the publisher. A review was not required. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
A True to Life Civil War Romance! What a joy to read this newest release…the first full length novel about Carnton Plantation, from Tamera Alexander! As I’ve experienced in all her previous novels, these characters come alive with realistic dialogue, full rounded characters, detailed (especially after the Battle of Franklin) descriptions that bring every scene to life, and a personal disappointment when this story ended! By the way, the descriptions, while accurate, are written in such a graceful manner that even the most sensitive reader will only benefit from the telling. With This Pledge is based on a true battle, one that I’ve not learned a lot about in the past,…as well as real people…who lived, loved, and experienced such atrocities during that period of time. You will feel the bullets whizzing by and hear the cries of the wounded men who lined the halls and rooms of Carnton. Somehow, the author takes that bloody scene and creates this poignant retelling of such an important time in our country’s history…really the turning point of the Civil War. Lizzie, so brave and true, was one of my favorite heroines of all time, and to know that she really lived is so special! And who could not love Captain Roland Jones, so brave and steadfast in the face of death, dismemberment and possible imprisonment. Lizzie and Roland are very drawn to each other and when they get past some difficulties, are a match made in heaven! We see Lizzie standing for her convictions and Roland standing in His faith, as well. Their romance was definitely swoon worthy! Without revealing the plot too much, I will say that this is one of Tamera Alexander’s best novel! I couldn’t recommend it more! And though it covered some really tough scenes and topics, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am anxiously awaiting the next book about Carnton! My family is planning a visit to Carnton Plantation sometime this year and I look forward to walking the grounds, as well, after the Battle of Franklin so vividly came to life for me in this novel! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required or requested to leave a positive review. This in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. All opinions are my own.
An Authentic Civil War Romance Lizzie Clouston is the governess at Carnton mansion in Franklin Tennessee. It’s been a lovely day. Lizzie and the children have enjoyed the mild weather, but that rapidly changes that night, November 30, 1864. The Federal army meets the Confederates in a pitched battle. Carnton mansion is the only available place to bring the wounded. Lizzie is pressed into service as Dr. Phillips tends the wounded, often having to amputate a limb. Captain Roland Jones, a decorated Mississippi sharpshooter, is wounded in the leg and hand. He begs Lizzie to keep the doctor from taking his leg. Lizzie agrees to do her best and during his recovery, a romance blossoms in spite of her being promised to another, her lifelong friend Towny, who she likes but doesn’t love. This is an excellent, well-researched historical account of the battle of Franklin, Tennessee. The author used the resources of the historical Carnton mansion and the letters between Roland and Lizzie to create an authentic account of the battle and the feelings of people at that time. I loved the characters, the children were particularly delightful and the setting was perfectly described to provide a background for the story. I was pleased that the author presented the characters realistically. They are Southerners, but they had divergent views on slavery and the Confederacy. It’s refreshing to read a novel that isn’t a polemic. I highly recommend it. I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.
War! Terrible! Gut wrenching horrible! Emotionally exhausting to experience and to read about 150 years after it torn through the land, the armies, the people. That is what author Tamera Alexander has so beautifully written into the early part of With This Pledge. And while the immediate horror of the battle of Franklin or Spring Hill was quieted, the torn and broken bodies, spirits, and hearts of the men who fought and the local residents continued to wage a war of healing. Healing of body. Healing of spirit. Healing of the mind. And a healing of the social ills. I read this book slowly so as to absorb the beauty of the writing of Ms. Alexander. She quite gracefully took the reader through the Civil War surgeries performed on surgical tables made from hastily removed doors and through the rooms of Carnton Place to see the blood ruined walls and floors of the mansion. Characters are beautifully fleshed out and move through scene after scene of physical and emotional turmoil gracing the pages with words and actions that endear them to your heart. You can readily see why the two main characters ultimately have a blossoming romance that is portrayed gently and beautifully. You'll love the children of Carnton Place. You'll love the nanny/governess just as the children and wounded soldiers do.You'll love Tempy and George, the "slaves" who are part of the story. This is a must read book if you care about historical fiction that is painstakingly researched and artfully woven into a beautiful story. I previously read the novella Christmas at Carnton that took place about the same time as With This Pledge. You don't want to miss these stories. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishing as Christian historical fiction, it deals defly with spiritual issues faced by the characters. DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy Advanced Reader's Copy from Thomas Nelson Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone, and are freely given.
Tamera Alexander has outdone herself with this book! I have loved all of her books but believe this is the best yet! So much history! I knew the civil war was terrible but the Battle of Franklin must have been horrendous beyond belief! Captain Roland Jones is a strong male protagonist who is fighting for what he believes. He is also an honorable man who will not pursue a relationship with a woman who is promised to someone else. Governess Lizzie Clouston is a courageous woman who believes slaves should learn to read. When Lizzie is called upon to assist the surgeon with amputations, she fulfills the task! Mrs. Alexander has researched Carnton Plantation and the Battle of Franklin so is able to provide many details and descriptions. With This Pledge is based on true facts from the Civil War. If you enjoy history, you will not want to miss this book! I received an e-book through NetGalley. This is my honest opinion.
I am always amazed by authors who have the ability to completely transport you to another time and place, and Tamera Alexander is certainly one of those authors. The vivid descriptions and rich history woven into the story made me truly feel like I was there with the characters. Experiencing their pain, fear, horror, relief, joy, and hope right along with them. The Civil War was one of the darkest times in our nation's history, men fighting their own countrymen, and men dying for the unconscionable belief that they had the right to own another human being. The author handled everything with grace, staying true to what people actually thought and did in those days while still conveying the biblical truth that all men are created equal. I loved Lizzie, her strength and grace during such a horrendous event was truly admirable. She was thrust into the heart of a battle's aftermath and without thought to herself worked tirelessly among injured and dying. And she didn't just care for their physical needs, her kindness reached beyond that with her words and actions. I also loved that she didn't let her enviroment control her beliefs. Even though she lived in the south she firmly believed that slavery was wrong refused to be swayed. It was tough for me to pin down my feelings on Roland, on one hand I liked him. He was a gentleman, kind and respectful, and he had a bit of a humorous side. But the fact that he was a Confederate slave owner who firmly believed in the cause was hard for me to reconcile with. And yes it was the way he was raised and "how things were done" then but it doesn't change the fact that it was wrong. And it's not easy to love a hero who was willing to fight for the right to own another person. But beyond that I really did like the rest of who he was and I loved his and Lizzie's relationship. There was so much packed into this book that it took me much longer than normal to read because I had to slow down and experience it all. Lovers of Civil War fiction will surely love this rich story! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
With This Pledge is Tamera Alexander's awesome first full-length novel in her Carnton series. Last year she set the stage with her captivating novella, Christmas at Carnton. This story drops you right into a major battle of the Civil War fought on and near the grounds of the Carnton plantation just outside Franklin, Tennessee. Thanks to her fantastic storytelling skills, Tamera Alexander makes you see, feel, and hear the horrors and tragedy of the Battle of Franklin and its aftermath, without unnecessary graphic details. Her characters are full of passion, conflict, loss, fear, hatred, and love. And they battle with those feelings as they go about the necessary activities of trying to put their damaged bodies and lives back together and face an unknown future. The author lets you experience those struggles through the eyes of a wide array of characters -- from battle-weary soldiers to concerned property owners, ministering nuns, apprehensive slaves, small children, and a compassionate governess. And as always, you can count on authenticity in the historical setting of a Tamera Alexander novel. I highly recommend With This Pledge to anyone interested in extremely well-written historical romance. Thanks to JustRead Publicity Tours for providing a copy of this book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.
Wow! I don't know if I even have all of the words to say how amazingly well this story was written. Tamera Alexander takes the reader on a journey straight into the trenches of the civil war, both physically and emotionally. When a war is being fought between brothers and neighbors, there is no escape--the war is guaranteed to leave it's mark on all. While the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery, it also held a lot of death and bloodshed. One question that was constantly posed throughout the story was "is it worth it?" Before being sent into war, men had to ask themselves if they were willing to die for what they believed. For many, as the war continued, their answers changed once it was too late. War is an ugly thing, and it both ends and destroys lives. Why did so many have to die before they would talk? What I loved about this story was that it showed that while not everyone fought on the physical battle lines, the war touched virtually everyone. Men didn't just lose their lives--but wives lost their husbands, children lost their fathers, siblings lost their brothers, parents lost their sons, and so on. Many witnessed events that would surely traumatize them for the rest of their lives. This story shares the painful truths of just how deeply the war had affected everyone. Tamera Alexander was able to masterfully weave the stories of multiple types of people into a story drenched with brokenness yet blanketed in hope. I have an ARC copy so I'm not sure if this will exist in the beginning of the full published version, but in my copy there is a note in the beginning from the author to readers mentioning that she wanted to be as historically accurate in this story which leads to some content that may be difficult for some readers. She states, "I've written this novel with a careful consideration of history--including oftentimes disturbing descriptions of combat--coupled with a deep desire to weave a compelling story of hope" (pg ix). In my opinion the author did a flawless job with this. Yes, there are some graphic details, but I don't believe they were avoidable while maintaining a historically accurate and realistic novel. Mentioned in the Afterward at the end, is the knowledge that many of the characters including the main characters, were actually real-life people and that Tamera's web-page contains more information on what was fact vs fiction about them in the story. I have every intent to visit since I am fascinated about learning about the real people behind history. I honestly don't believe I could recommend this book enough. Yes, there are some difficult moments, but Tamera Alexander has made history come alive in a way that will stay with you forever. Just as the war left no one unchanged, so this book will leave no reader unchanged. This is absolutely a MUST-READ! *I received a copy of this book from the author through JustRead Publicity Tours. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Tamera is a wonderful author. The research she puts into her books brings them to life and she achieved that in this book. From the beginning we are tossed into a scene that you want to look away from but must keep reading to see what will happen next. She does give a warning in the beginning that it can be a bit hard to read as she doesn’t hold back the things that these men went through and she is right. I could easy see the torn bodies laying every where. Lizzie is a strong young woman who hates the war and all it stands for. The reader will easily come to like her. Roland is a strong hero, even to his own detriment. But his determination and his faith will have cheering from him. If you enjoy historical romance I highly recommend this book. A copy of this book was given to me through the JustRead Tours. All opinions are my own.
Tamera Alexander is an author whose novels I have enjoyed. Her most recent novel, With This Pledge, is no exception. Set at Carnton House during and after the Battle of Franklin, Alexander's meticulous research skills and ability to craft an engaging story truly shine in this work. As you read, the sights and sounds of the battle and the makeshift hospital are vivid. While definitely a work of fiction, it is hard to remember that the characters and the events depicted really happened. If you enjoy historical fiction, particularly Civil War stories, you will enjoy this book. I greatly enjoyed how Alexander wove themes of fighting injustice and bucking the system into a story told from largely from the Confederate point of view. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book With This Pledge via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
A great read for those who love history! Set in the Civil War, the story follows Lizzie Clouston and Captain Roland Jones in the afternath of battle as both try to reconcile the changes they see in themselves and their world. There are quite a few pages dedicated to the history of the battle and the cause of the war (both sides), so if you love history, this book is for you! And of course, there’s the romance for which Tamera Alexander is known! Rated PG-13 for some mild details about battle wounds and amputation (no gory details, but it does address the issue). No sex No language
With this Pledge follows a young lady named Lizzie who accepts a marriage proposal for all the wrong reasons. She decides that the future she desires is only plausible if she settles for friendship rather than love in marriage. The Civil war interrupts her engagement and Lizzie is tasked with nursing soldiers. As battles rage around her Lizzie fights the pull of her heart. Her attempts to ignore the love developing for a soldier causes her to question her resolve to marry her childhood friend. She would never want to hurt her best friend but can she settle for friendship when she is starting to understand what love can feel like? Tamera Alexander brings to life the Civil War conflict this Virginia plantation. I am still not ready to let this book go. The Civil War era is so intriguing to me. Alexander presented the view of soldiers and leaders of both sides, civilians, slaves, and a slave owner in this novel. I felt so conflicted for everyone involved. War is so ugly and even though this is of the past I was seeking peace for these souls throughout this book.
WITH THIS PLEDGE is a story of faith and love in the midst of war. Set during the US Civil War where a governess and the family she serves see more than most when they fill in as a hospital for the Confederate army during a fight just a few miles from their doors. The occurrence impacts the soldiers they house while also greatly impacting their own lives. This is one beautifully written romance that will steal your heart and inspire. Alexander never disappoints. Her historical details and characters always tug on the heart, bring out all the feels, and leave you with a perfectly satisfying ending. The beginning of this story starts off quite intense. I didn't really take my first breath until 40 pages in or so, if even then. I was immediately pulled in and was also easily invested in these characters who were so well drawn. Lizzie has a quiet reserve about her, while also having such inner strength as she serves the soldiers and then begins to push forward her own beliefs. I admired her in so many ways. Roland is a character that quickly captured my heart as he deals with his losses and shows his strength. I loved the dialogue between these two and how their relationship grows and continues through letters. I also loved the other characters who so uniquely played their roles. The children were precious, and I especially loved Tempy. I appreciated how well the author describes the fight and war, and then weaves these characters and the romance through it. The inspirational elements were spot on as well. This was a perfectly written story and I'm looking forward to the following books in the series. In the end, was it what I wished for? I loved this story from beginning to end. Highly recommended! Content: Some violence and gore due to the setting, but clean. Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through JustRead Tours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.