Monday, June 20, 2011
This novel follows a similar format as Star of the Sea: a headline, a little summary about what will happen in this chapter, occasional photographs or drawings, and ballads.This story of the aftermath of the Civil War, told by many voices.
I started this novel in January but had to put it down, because of my spring graduate classes. I did have to review the beginning parts of the novel so I could pick it up again.
Eliza Duane Mooney, Mary's daughter from Star of the Sea, decides to walk from Baton Rouge, LA to a northern territory state, to look for her brother. The boy, Jeremiah, was a drummer boy for the Confederates and never came back. She heard (and I don’t know how!) that he was still alive and living up North. But, her trip was anything but pleasant; be prepared for graphic descriptions of her troubles.
Up in the cold northern territory (it's not a state yet, but it's close to Canada), the acting governor is trying to forget the horrors of war. James C. O’Connor was sentenced in Ireland to live in the penal colony of Australia, managed to escape and moved to the United States, where he fought on the Union side of the Civil War He became important on the lecture circuit, telling his story.
Two women play an important part in the telling of the novel. A former slave, Elizabeth Longstreet, lived in his home; she later moved to Liberia. O’Connor married the very rich socialite, Lucia-Cruz Rodriguez y Ortega McLelland.
You need to read this novel continuously. There are many characters, telling the story from their viewpoints, so that it’s easy to lose your place.
I learned about many aspects of the Civil War that I didn’t learn about in school.
I found this novel more difficult to read than Star of the Sea. Even though both deal with events that disrupted the lives of many people (The Irish Potato Famine vs the Civil War), O’Connor brought these events down to a personal level, so we could experience what the characters felt. However, the effects of the Civil War marked everyone more deeply than I thought possible.
This counts as a book for the War Through the Generations Reading Challenge - Civil War. I've set my goal low this year due to graduate school.