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I really want to love this book. The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks. I’ve already renewed it twice from the library and it’s now two days overdue again. So I’m faced with a decision. Do I drop it off at the library at one of those convenient, drive-through style metal drop off boxes and wait for the hectic spring semester to end before finding another book? Or do I make a choice to MAKE TIME to read it?

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As I sit here at the kitchen table and listen to the whir of a lawn mower across the street on this beautiful spring morning, I think of all the things I have to/want to do today:

Laundry. Look for new cushions for our patio chairs. Find a recipe for tartar sauce to have with our left over fish from our fish fry last night (because most of the cocktail sauce is now gone and I’m not going to the store just for cocktail sauce). Write a blog post about my husband’s super delicious fried fish. Find a crockpot recipe for tomorrow (it’s all about planning ahead right?) Watch an episode of Mad Men (the last season begins April 5, I have to catch up!!). Sit out on the patio and paint my nails a pretty spring time color. (My nails are currently polish-free and badly un-manicured and there’s a bottle of Essie “Fashion Playground” that’s been sitting on my bathroom counter for over a week.”) The only reading that makes the list is reading what my fellow bloggers have been up to.

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Why do I want to love this book? For starters, it’s an intriguing plot based on the true story of a woman named Carrie McGavock, whose planation home in Franklin, Tennessee became a Confederate field hospital during the Battle of Franklin. But I’m no Civil War buff and I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book if I hadn’t actually visited Franklin and the very plantation where this all happened. I’d never even heard of the Battle of Franklin until our trip to Nashville last November when we took a little trip about 20 miles south to check out the town. We visited two historic homes there and I was captivated by the stories of these people who endured a major battle right in their own backyard. I couldn’t wait to read The Widow of the South.

It’s not that I’ve DISLIKED the book so far. It just hasn’t really GRABBED me. I think the back and forth changes of view point between Carrie and the soldiers out on the field has been a bit aggravating. And a bit dry, a bit too expository, a bit too Red Badge of Courage. HOWEVER, as I open to where I left my book mark one night before my eyelids closed (between pages 128 and 129) I’m reminded that it is getting better, now that the wounded are arriving at the house. As it reads on the back cover:

When a wounded soldier named Zachariah Cashwell arrives at her house, he awakens feelings she had thought long dead – and inspires a passion as powerful and unforgettable as he war that consumes a nation.

And yes, by page 128 Zachariah has arrived, and maybe this is where the fiction really meets history in this historical fiction novel. So maybe I should just hang in there. At the bottom of page 128 Zachariah is lying on the wooden floor of Carrie’s house with other wounded soldiers and this is how he describes her:

“She was dark haired and pale and she was dressed all in black. This was the lady they’d been making jokes about, wanting her to return, about how their important parts would react to her arrival. I thought then that I could not be dying, because her arrival felt like a punch in my chest, which I reckoned to be a sign of life. I saw her and felt grateful and heated and afraid, all together.”

That’s good stuff. Maybe I’ll hang in there, try to squeeze in some reading during my 27 minutes of lunch time at school.

What do you think? How many pages until it’s time to head to the book return drop box?

At Carnton Plantation, November 2014.

At Carnton Plantation, November 2014.

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