Thus begins C. S. Harris's haunting, lyrically beautiful tale of coming of age in Civil War-torn Louisiana. Eleven-year-old Amrie St. Pierre is catching tadpoles with her friend Finn O'Reilly when the Federal fleet first steams up the Mississippi River in the spring of 1862. With the surrender of New Orleans, Amrie's sleepy little village of St. Francisville - strategically located between the last river outposts of Vicksburg and Port Hudson - is now frighteningly vulnerable. As the roar of canons inches ever closer and food, shoes, and life-giving medicines become increasingly scarce, Amrie is forced to grow up fast. But it is her own fateful encounter with a tall, golden-haired Union captain named Gabriel that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she holds most dear. Told with rare compassion and insight, this is a gripping, heart-wrenching story of loss and survival; of the bonds that form amongst women and children left alone to face the hardships, depravations, and dangers of war; and of one unforgettable girl's slow and painful recognition of the good and evil that exists within us all.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-19
- Reviewer: Staff
In a distinct departure from her popular Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series, Harris tells a powerful story of wars destruction of property, people, hopes, and morals during the Civil War in Louisiana. This is top-notch historical fiction, thoroughly researched and vividly presented, revealing the Civil War in all its brutality. Thirteen-year-old Amrie St. Pierre lives with her mother on a farm near the Mississippi port town of St. Francisville. Her father and most local men are in the Confederate army fighting up north near Vicksburg. The Union army comes upriver from New Orleans, burning, plundering, and pillagingterrorizing citizens, punishing them for secession. Louisiana families suffer greatly from deprivationlittle food, no medicine, sickness, and the constant threat of rape and murder. Amrie, her mother, and Mahalia, another citizen, are assaulted by two Yankee soldiers, but the women kill both men and hide their bodies. They know Yankee retribution will be swift and harsh. After the soldiers bodies are finally discovered, the whole town will be punished if the killers dont step forward. Amrie and her mother learn the strength of women united against cruelty and oppression. This is an excellent story, full of suspense and historical detail. (Dec.)