The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

I adored this book with its mix of truth and fiction. It is an account of Carrie McGavock, who finds her home taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a field hospital during the battle of Franklin, Tennessee. She is called the Widow of the South. She did amazing things for nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers killed in the Battle of Franklin. She nursed them while they were dying, and reburied them on her own land when the mass grave field they were buried in was to be plowed. She kept records for every one of them and wrote to their families about their lost loved ones. The cemetery that she protected for them still exists and is kept up by The United Daughters of the Confederacy.  The stories are told with stark honesty, not romanticizing the battle. The straightforward delivery, while at times gruesome in its descriptions, adds realism, and yet poignancy, to horrible situations.

The fictional parts come in with her fascination with an injured young Southern soldier who is wounded when he releases his guns and charges forward into Yankee territory, holding only the flag of his company’s colours. Carrie sees something kindred in the man’s eyes and falls in love with him. He does not coddle her or treat her with the social propriety. He eventually recognizes the fact that she is as injured as he is, even though her injuries are emotional and well-hidden. Together, they are able to heal each other’s physical and spiritual wounds, finding a love that it endures across the decades and miles of separation.

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