Beninger’s lyrical writing expertly captures the essence of the pre–Civil War U.S., emphasizing the tension between slaveholders and abolitionists. She highlights the dangers faced by enslaved people as well as their free counterparts in the North, who face frequent discrimination. Beninger creatively juxtaposes the prejudice against African-Americans with the social struggles of the Irish, especially Jack, who is determined to move past the obstacles Guine’s father has put in the way of his courtship.
The attention to historical detail is evident in all elements of the narrative. Beninger’s knowledge of the day’s politics sweeps the entire country, from California to the deep South. She highlights the infighting within the Democratic Party and the rise of the Republican Party, dryly noting that the primary appeal of Abraham Lincoln is that he “offends no one.” The political maneuvering between members of Congress and President James Buchanan may feel all too familiar to present-day readers. This rich and vivid novel captivates with an evocative blend of passion and politics.
Takeaway: This novel’s engaging characters, subtle romance, and vivid politics will delight any fan of Civil War–era historical fiction.
Great for fans of Diane C. McPhail’s The Abolitionist’s Daughter, Boston Teran’s A Child Went Forth.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-