by Robert Hicks
This historical novel was based on the true story of Carrie McGavock, mistress of Carnton, a plantation in Franklin, Tennessee and her servant, Mariah as their home is turned into a Confederate hospital during the Battle of Franklin. Carrie, who is at best quirky but seems to suffer what would now be recognized as mental illness, and Mariah are pressed into service as nurses. As she is thrust into the role of caring for and comforting the dying and critically injured soldiers, she falls in love with one of them. Although they never behave inappropriately (Carrie is a married woman, and Zacharia Cashwell is well below her social class) his memory remains with her throughout her life as the country and her family rebuild during the Reconstruction. Her home, the former hospital, becomes a cemetery, and years later, Zacharia, now elderly, appears at Carrie’s doorstep to inquire whether the cemetery has room for one more occupant. This book was extremely compelling, and I am looking forward to reading its sequel.