Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall

"Libby waited for her dead husband in the woods, her breath making clouds in the cold night air. Her hair was cut short above her ears, and her neck was cold. Her wool uniform itched her. She had not slept in two days. She leaned against a bay tgree as the fog moved through the woods. She closed her eyes and began to drift. She heard the crackle of a footstep and opened her eyes. The fog cleared and Arden stood in front of her, pale and somber, the red stain of his stomach wound still fresh and spreading out across his grey jacket." Opening Paragraph

Synopsis: In a war pitting brother against brother, two sisters choose their own battle. Joseph and Thomas are fresh recruits for the Confederate Army, daring to join the wild fray that has become the seemingly endless Civil War, sharing everything with their fellow soldiers—except the secret that would mean their undoing: they are sisters. Before the war, Joseph and Thomas were Josephine and Libby. But that bloodiest battle, Antietam, leaves Libby to find her husband, Arden, dead. She vows vengeance, dons Arden’s clothes, and sneaks off to enlist with the Stonewall Brigade, swearing to kill one Yankee for every year of his too-short life. Desperate to protect her grief-crazed sister, Josephine insists on joining her. Surrounded by flying bullets, deprivation, and illness, the sisters are found by other dangers: Libby is hurtling toward madness, haunted and urged on by her husband’s ghost; Josephine is falling in love with a fellow soldier. She lives in fear both of revealing their disguise and of losing her first love before she can make her heart known to him. 
In her trademark “vibrant” (Washington Post Book World) and “luscious” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) prose, Kathy Hepinstall joins with her sister Becky to show us the hopes of love and war, the impossible-to-sever bonds of sisterhood, and how what matters most can both hurt us and heal us.

Review by Mirella Patzer

I like historical fiction novels that deliver unique perspectives on a particular period in history, and this novel does just that. It is written by two sisters and is about two sisters who disguise themselves as men in order to fight for the south in the American Civil War. It is a story of one woman who has lost her husband in the war. The loss is more than she can bear and her mind becomes fragile, fraught with haunting visions of her dead husband. She is set on avenging his death and enlists. Her sister, concerned, follows her in this dangerous mission as a means to protect her. This novel allows us a glimpse into the thin line between sanity and madness, and how it can become so easily blurred. If you love books about the civil war, especially those with strong heroines, then this is one to get. A very poignant read indeed.

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