Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Widow Of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green.

I have always thought that historical novels are best when they follow the pattern of the true story of Ruth, told in the Book of Ruth. 
In this Biblical book, the tiny details of the Ruth's life and the wholesome, growing love between her and Boaz are set against the backdrop of national upheaval and giant questions of faith. 
I marvel when I read Ruth, because here are homey, ordinary details amidst such a dark and deadly time, the period of the Judges. Famine and fighting surrounded Israel, yet Ruth was trusting God and bowing her head and praying and serving her family and falling in love while the world crashed down around her. 

The Widow of Gettyburg tells Liberty Holloway's story in a like way, giving attention to the fact that lemonade colored roses grew over the porch railing and that her kitchen garden flourished even as war tortured hearts and marched ever closer to their quiet home.  

I was one chapter into this book, the second book in the Heroines Behind the Lines Series, and I was already telling my Mother "You *have* to read this!" 
And what a first chapter it is! 
Liberty is nineteen years old and a widow, her life seemingly put on hold before it even really began. Liberty had worn her black mourning dress for almost two years, mourning a youthful husband she never really knew; a love she isn't sure she really received or gave.  
After all, when would "Orphan Libbie" have known love? Raised by an unkind aunt and told terrible stories about who her mother was, Liberty has spent her years being the outcast. 
Now she is marginally accepted only because she is the Widow of Gettysburg, a symbol of the war's toll on them all.  

In the drenching rain, a lone rider is coming toward Liberty's farm-turned-inn, seeking shelter and a meal. Liberty is alone with Bella, her hired help, and Major, her Newfoundland. {I got this big grin on my face when I first met Major, because I grew up with a big Newfie in my family!  Major's story is another example of how Jocelyn Green includes little details that fit within the grand scope of the story and enrich our reading experience. Major was the canine mascot for Liberty's late husband's regiment. The dog has attached himself to Levi, and when Levi died Major was sent home to Liberty.} The rider gives his name simply as Johnny, and surely Liberty hasn't met him before, so how is it that he can read her so well so quickly?  
And why did he give her the warning that she should leave this town, and soon? 
What harm could come to her in Gettysburg? 

Then comes the battle, and after that comes the bloody river of 21,000 wounded men, sweeping around the 2,400 residents of Gettysburg and all but drowning the city. 
It was then, as civilians were pressed into service to care for the men, that the women of Gettysburg discovered what they were capable of. It is from there that Liberty's story is told. 

Once again, Jocelyn's descriptive writing takes you into the scenes, to see both the beautiful and the tragic. We see the peace of a June day in Gettysburg, and then we see the shallow graves where too many were buried. We see the strength of doctors and nurses who labored to save everyone they could, and we see the devastation of wounds in bodies that were whole and healthy. 

Jocelyn Green has introduced us to people from history and adding layers to their stories, giving them life in our minds. Authors have such a unique opportunity, to let us meet people like Liberty's friend Elizabeth Thorn, who really was the pregnant cemetery keeper and grave-digger in Gettysburg. Elizabeth is memorialized by a statue and a place in this book.  

When you read Widow of Gettysburg you read Liberty's own personal story as well as the story of a nation at war. Both stories are told with equal skill, making this an unforgettable lesson in history and the human heart. 

Thank you Moody Press Newsroom and Jocelyn Green for sending me this book to review! 

Jocelyn Green is an award-winning author and freelance writer. A former military wife, she authored, along with contributing writers, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and Faith Deployed . .  Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. Jocelyn also co-authored ofStories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan, which won the Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America in 2010, and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front, which inspired her first novel: Wedded to War.

Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She is an active member of the Evangelical Press Association, Christian Authors Network, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Military Writers Society of America.
She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at

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