Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Annie, Between The States

Annie, Between The States by L.M. Elliott is a work of historical fiction, set during the American Civil War.

The Plot: Annie, Between The States is set in Virginia during the Civil War. Annie is caught between the forces of the Union and the forces of the Confederacy. Repeatedly, she witnesses battles and tends the wounded. Annie is caught between the two sides in more complicated ways: her family owns slaves, but views it as wrong. They agree with certain arguments made by the Union, but also believe that it is a war not about slavery, but about states rights. Their "country" to which they owe allegiance is Virginia. To make things even more complex, Annie meets a wounded soldier -- a wounded Union soldier. He's supposed to be "the enemy", but she finds out they have much in common.

The Good: This book starts right after the beginning of the Civil War, and ends just before the war ends. All the officers, all the battles, and other historical information is factual. As the war goes on, Annie finds strength she didn't know she had. She also is forced to rethink assumptions, especially assumptions about the "servants" in her house.

Elliott doesn't let the North off the hook: she shows that the Union and its soldiers were not free from prejudice. Elliott also shows that the 19th century had many different prejudices, including ethnic and religious prejudice; much is made about Annie's father "marrying down" when he wed an Irish Catholic.

One difficult thing about any historical fiction is trying to have a character think "of the time" depicted yet at the same time, having the character being modern in sensibility. Elliott manages this balance; I believed that Annie was a person of the mid 19th century.

I love historical fiction. I love being immersed in a different time and learning about how people lived in other places, other times. I am one of those book geeks who love it that authors have started including detailed notes and bibliographies on works of historical fiction because yes, I read the notes, and yes, then I look for additional non-fiction books or documentaries or websites. (And in case you're believing that this is a recent affliction -- I always questioned and wanted more information; its just that now publishers and authors make it so much easier.)

Elliott gives detailed notes, not only discussing her research but also sharing some of the real stories, such as that of Antonia Ford. By providing the "truths", her fiction is all the stronger. It's not made up; its real, even if Annie herself isn't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A NEW BOOK BY THE AUTHOR IS COMING OUT! "A Troubled Peace," the sequel to the author's first novel, "Under a War-torn Sky." Check on-like, like Amazon.