The Secrets of Heavenly tells the story of main character, Willa, as a slave until almost a decade prior to the civil war, through hers and other characters’ points of view. The story takes place from 1842 to 1852 and hints to the impending end of slavery as newer generations blur the lines between master and friend and slowly turn against it. I imagine this is how abolitionism in the south might have evolved.
The story is good and seems to realistically depict slavery, as much as I can imagine of course. There were several typos and punctuation errors in the book, but since the story was so good, I wasn’t distracted to the point of annoyance. The book starts out with a present-day woman reading Marianne’s journal, one of the characters in the main story. The inclusion of Marianne’s diary was interesting, but I don’t think that layer was necessary (of the beginning character receiving and reading the diary), but maybe the author felt she needed a way to introduce the diary.
The story built to a good climax and became faster paced as the end approached. There were several “Oh, no!” moments where I felt truly bad for Willa, but it wasn’t unexpected given the subject matter. Plus, you know that when you’re only halfway through a book and it looks like something wonderful is going to happen that something is probably going to go awry. The point is that I cared about Willa and hated to see bad things happen to her. There are themes of true love, accepting or not accepting the circumstances dictating life, finding positivity in the direst circumstances, and the human will to live no matter what.
Overall, this was a good story with an acceptable ending, all things considered. It’s a nice historical depiction of life leading up to the civil war. I read this book in just short of two weeks, so on a can’t-put-it-down-scale of one for I couldn’t even finish it to ten for I was up until the wee morning hours, I give it an eight.
Source: Robison, Teresa. (2013.) The Secrets of Heavenly. Writing Out Loud Publishing.
My aunt, who shares my love of historical fiction, loaned me The Widow of the South because she thought I would enjoy it. I did.
To me, this novel is essentially a clean romance with a twist. It basically tells the story of Carrie McGavock’s emotional love affair with Zachariah Cashwell, a soldier recovering from injuries he sustained in Carrie’s house, which was turned into a hospital, during a civil war battle. Carrie, married and suffering from the losses of her children, finds solace in Cashwell. They essentially find themselves soul mates who teach each other how to live again. It’s also about how Carrie, who has lost so much, finds her purpose in life and becomes a comfort for others.
The story is based on real events during the civil war and the battle at Franklin, Tennessee. It is told from the point-of-view of multiple characters, including a sort of omniscient narrator, but mostly Carrie and Zachariah. All the characters had distinct voices.
On the issue of slavery, the story addresses what is not normally taught in history classes (or at least I don’t recall it during my history classes). The issue of slavery was not so black and white (pun not intended) with slaves choosing to stay with their master families out of loyalty and a feeling of being a part of the family but also because they had nowhere else to go after being freed. Some of them felt trapped and it was simply what they were used to. The story showed how some slave owners failed to see their slaves as human beings, not just in the way you’d expect (as property), but sometimes when they made a mistake and fell from some sort of pedestal.
This book was different from the other civil war era books I read, which is one of the main reasons why I liked it. It took me a little less than three weeks to read it, so on a can’t-put-it-down-scale of one for I couldn’t even finish it to ten for I was up until the wee morning hours, I give it a seven.
Source: Hicks, Robert. (2006). The Widow of the South. Grand Central Publishing.