Historical fiction is not my preferred genre but I did enjoy this novel. I learned a great deal about the great Chicago fire of 1871 within the fictional context. I really like the author note at the end, verifying which aspects of the novel were, in fact, reflection of actual events. The plot revolves around two sisters who owned a bookstore their father had owned before his Civil War experience. The bookstore burns in the fire, the women loosing almost everything. While they and their father survive, their troubles intensify as the father is accused of murder.
A major aspect of the father was “soldier's heart,” what we have now come to recognize as PTSD. It was heartbreaking to see how such men were treated, especially as he was eventually taken to the Cook County Insane Asylum. That facility became notorious for the way it treated its inmates.
I was surprised to find out there had been a Confederate prison camp near Chicago. Camp Douglas had originally been a Union troop training center but became a prison camp in 1863. We read about the terrible conditions there as well as the even worse conditions for Union soldiers at Andersonville. No wonder so many soldiers had mental and emotional issues after the war.
I recommend this book to readers who would like an informative novel about the great Chicago fire. You'll get a dose of romance along with the stark reality of how people made it through such a devastating experience. You'll also have a mystery to solve although I felt the villain was a bit obvious.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King; Wedded to War; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. As a speaker Jocelyn inspires faith and courage in her audiences. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, strawberry-rhubarb pie, the color red, and reading with a cup of tea. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.
Bethany House Publishers, 416 pages.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)