Monday, February 13, 2006

The Widow of the South a powerful, evocative read

12. The Widow of the South, Robert Hicks. Fiction, 2-13, pp. 404

Sometimes a book catches you completely off guard. Not merely the quality of its writing, although that is part of it, but the emotions that it touches; touches more deeply, more genuinely, more ineffably than hundreds of other books.

My youngest son asked me recently why I read. This is the answer. I read in the hope of just such a book. A book that illuminates the human spirit, that instructs and edifies, and that connects me to my fellow man – in mind and body and spirit – in ways we seldom experience in our daily lives.

Cold Mountain was such a book. As was Atonement and Gilead. The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks now joins that select list. In this, his first book, Hicks weaves a tender, at times horrific, story of one of the final battles of the Civil War and how that battle changed the life of one woman forever. In telling the story of Carrie McGavock, Hicks lays bares the horror of war, evokes the powerful hold life has on each of us and reminds us, once again, how one persons’ sacrifice can touch the lives of thousands.

The Widow of the South is a powerful, evocative story and a superior read.

"I had resolved to be the designated mourner, to be the woman who would remember so others could forget. In the forgetting, I prayed, would be some relief, some respite from the violence and bitterness and vengeance. Did I have hope? It did not really matter, but I had little. Still, there are things we are called to do that we cannot refuse, as futile as they seem, because to refuse them would mean to lose faith. Not just faith in God so much as faith in man, which I supposed amounted to the same thing."

--from The Widow of the South

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