Adrienne Morris, the author of this book, also writes a very interesting historical blog, called “Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained–Where Past Meets Present at Middlemay Farm.”
This was a very long book, and I might have enjoyed it a bit more had it been split into two books. However, I’m not sure where that split should have occurred, so that’s all I’ll say about that.
This is a gripping tale of love, loss, and betrayal, set in historical times shortly following the Civil War, leading into the Reconstruction and the “war” with the Native Americans. John Weldon, the central character, becomes addicted to pain medication while recovering from wounds received in battle. While serving in the army, he has become good friends with Simon McCullough. He eventually makes his way to the McCullough home in Englewood, New Jersey, the house on Tenafly Road.
There, he falls hopelessly in love with Katherine, Simon’s younger sister. The story goes on from there, and I won’t go into endless detail about it, as the book is over 600 pages long.
What I liked about the book was the detail of the time. I feel that Ms. Morris has done her homework very well. I’m not terribly familiar with the customs and times surrounding the Civil War, but this book just “feels right.” The attitudes of the people, the way they dressed and carried themselves, the conditions that they lived in out on the frontier, and most especially, the health conditions that afflicted them.
In my opinion, this book was very well-written, in both description and dialogue. The only reason that I gave it four stars instead of five is that I’m probably not in the target audience for a book like this. Sure, there was some action (not that I’m a huge action fan, myself), and I’m not really sure what “genre” this would be placed in. I might simply call it “historical fiction,” but I think that it might edge slightly over into the “romance” section, as well. Although, there are many times that what occurred between John Weldon and Katherine could hardly be called “romance.”
Nevertheless, I say it’s a very good book, worthy of reading by anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and especially if one likes the rather romantic side of that genre.