December 15, 2009
Review: A Blue and Gray Christmas by Joan Medlicott
When a rusty old tin box is unearthed at the Covington Homestead, longtime housemates Grace, Amelia, and Hannah discover that it contains letters and diaries written by two Civil War soldiers, one Union and one Confederate.
The friends are captivated by the drama revealed. The soldiers were found dying on a nearby battlefi eld by an old woman. She nursed them back to health, hiding them from bounty hunters seeking deserters. At the end of the war the men chose to stay in Covington, caring for their rescuer as she grew frail. But while their lives were rich, they still felt homesick and guilty for never contacting the families they'd left behind.
Christmas is coming, and the letters inspire Amelia with a generous impulse. What if she and her friends were to fi nd the two soldiers' descendants and invite them to Covington to meet? What better holiday gift could there be than the truth about these two heroic men and their dramatic shared fate? With little time left, the ladies spring into action to track down the men's families in Connecticut and the Carolinas, and to make preparations in Covington for their most memorable, most historic Christmas yet.
I had never read anything by Joan Medlicott before and I thought this book sounded like a festive Christmas read. I loved it from start to finish.
While it is part of a series (the Covington series) the book works as a stand alone as well. The story and the characters are fresh and relatable, with the trio of housemates, Grace, Hannah and Amelia, the center of the story. And as much as I enjoyed the ladies themselves, I thought the best part of the story was the story of Tom and John, the two Civil war soldiers, one Union and one Confederate, who survived the war together and whose stories were told entirely through the letters Grace, Hannah and Amelia found buried on their property.
Historical fiction can be a tricky thing - - an author must be accurate without being overly academic and Ms. Medlicott's use of letters only to transport the reader to Tom's and John's time is inspired and immensely satisfying. Reading their letters, you feel one man's anguish at leaving his life behind and another's glimmer of hope at starting life anew.
Woven within the Civil War stories and the stories of Grace, Hannah and Amelia is also the story of Denny, the local pastor, and his desire to marry Sarina, Hannah's former daughter-in-law.
All this is set to the backdrop of the Christmas season, with the underlying theme of family and Christmas miracles.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, heartwarming tale, a true feel-good story. Enjoying historical fiction is simply an added bonus. For the discerning reader, there is no language, no sex and no violence, other than a few Civil War injuries mentioned. This is a great read for a book club or a reader of any age.
A Blue and Gray Christmas can be purchased at major booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Author Joan Medlicott's website is here.
Many thanks to Sarah Reidy and Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.