“This story of love, loss, and growing up under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable is beautifully written, superbly researched, emotionally engaging and gripping from first page to last. A must for old-school fans of historical fiction.” Booklist Starred Review
I killed a man the summer I turned thirteen . . .
Thus begins C. S. Harris’s haunting, lyrically beautiful tale of coming of age in Civil War-torn Louisiana. Eleven-year-old Amrie St. Pierre is catching tadpoles with her friend Finn O’Reilly when the Federal fleet first steams up the Mississippi River in the spring of 1862. With the surrender of New Orleans, Amrie’s sleepy little village of St. Francisville – strategically located between the last river outposts of Vicksburg and Port Hudson – is now frighteningly vulnerable. As the roar of canons inches ever closer and food, shoes, and life-giving medicines become increasingly scarce, Amrie is forced to grow up fast. But it is her own fateful encounter with a tall, golden-haired Union captain named Gabriel that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she holds most dear.
Told with rare compassion and insight, this is a gripping, heart-wrenching story of loss and survival; of the bonds that form amongst women and children left alone to face the hardships,depravations, and dangers of war; and of one unforgettable girl’s slow and painful recognition of the good and evil that exists within us all.
|Publisher:||Severn House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
C.S. Harris graduated with a degree in Classics before earning a Ph.D. in European history. A scholar of the French Revolution and 19th-century Europe, she has lived in Europe and various far-flung parts of the old British Empire. She now lives in New Orleans with her husband and two daughters.
Read an Excerpt
I killed a man the summer I turned thirteen. Sometimes I still see him in my dreams, his eyes as blue as the Gulf on a clear spring morning, his cheeks reddened by the hot Louisiana sun. His face is always the same, ever young and vital. But the bones of his hands are bare and stained dark by the fetid mud of the swamps, and his scent is that of death.
Yet even worse are the nights when I lie awake, when a hot summer wind shifts the festoons of Spanish moss hanging from the arching branches of the live oaks down by the bayou and whispers through the canebrakes in a sibilant rush. That’s when the fear comes to me, cold and soul-shrivelling, and I find myself listening lest the hushed breath of the dead betray the secret of what we did that day.
I tell myself his mouth is filled with earth, his tongue turned to dust. But the dead don’t need to speak to bear witness to the wrongs done them. And though I tell myself the wrongs were his, and that no just God could condemn my actions on that fateful morning, it is a desperate reassurance that brings no real rest. If this war has taught us anything, it is that convictions of righteous certitude can be soul-corrupting illusions that offer no dispensation from hell.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good Time Coming (from a Stephen Foster song hoping for peace) is an ironically titled coming of age book. Amrie is a young girl growing up in the sleepy backwater community along the Mississippi in Louisiana during the Civil War in 1862. Her, father, a doctor has gone off to join the Confederacy, although he does not truly believe in its mission. But he knows there will be wounded men who need him. He leaves behind his wife, who is his helpmate and a healer and his daughter. Amrie is not even thirteen when the opening sentence reveals she has killed a man. How did this happen? The author takes us back in time to the innocence of young Amrie before the arrival of Union soldiers and before young men joined the Confederacy. The hope is that the war will be short and not affect this small bayou area. But war knows no boundaries. Amrie becomes witness to the atrocities associated with war. There are vindictive soldiers, marauders, neighbors turning on neighbors, pillaging, rape, fires, gunfire, torture, and shortages of clothing, food and medicine. This is not a genteel tale of the South but a visceral chronicle of deprivation and depravity. There is no way to escape and in Amrie’s world, she daily sees everything become even worse. As a resource for this novel, C. S. Harris used diaries and documentation to explore the affects of the Civil War on a civilian population of the old, the ill, women and children. These are the ones who are always left behind during armed conflict. She portrays a South with the same intensity of an Andersonville novel. One’s heart breaks for Amrie, for her loss of innocence and her entire world. Yet, there is much to admire in her resiliency in spite of tremendous odds. This is not a book you will forget. This is a book that should ignite compassion for those around the world who daily face similar circumstances. But do not think this is a political tome, above all this book and Amrie has heart and an enduring hope. Highly recommended. Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free review copy in exchange for an unbiased review.