Good thing we have plenty of left-overs from our recent family holiday meals! I thought that I would "while away" a few stolen moments to read a chapter or two of this new book by Mary Ellis. From the first page, I found myself transported back in time to 1861 and fictionalized accounts of Civil War events. North or South....the divisions were often arbitrary but painful as extended family members found themselves on opposite sides in bloody battles. Behavior and actions were very scripted in those days. It would have taken great courage and conviction to fight what was expected by acting upon ones heart and beliefs that went against the norm. Being branded a traitor/spy could lead to public humiliation and death. Yet the Quakers and many other compassionate people did step forward and the Underground Railroad was formed, successfully assisting slaves to flee the South and garner freedom. I appreciated the several mentions that the trip was neither easy or certain to improve the slaves living circumstances.
Although a fictionalized account, this book provides some historically correct details-- of plantation life, soldiering and battle plans, medical care, homes and furnishings, clothing, meals, education, Quaker views and typical communication and travel--in such a way that you feel you get to know the characters and are traveling amongst them in their wagons, on horseback, train or even simply walking along a dusty footpath.
I am very impressed at how well the author handled both discussions and individual character's thoughts because they seemed neither stilted nor unfitting for each character's education and station in society.
As the main protagonists, Emily and Alexander initially believe that they are on completely opposite sides of the Civil War and slavery issues but in the end they realize not everything is such an absolute certainty when love and God's plans are also mixed in.
Four hours later, I am happy to have read this good book and no one has starved thanks to the holiday left-overs!
Emily Harrison is strong-willed and opinionated on topics she knows nothing about. She's always in a temper, a holier-than-thou Yankee who thinks herself superior to dissipated Southerners. Alexander Hunt clearly sees all that. She's patently wrong for him. So why can't he get her out of his every waking thought?
When they travel to Hunt Farms, Emily goes to work on the Underground Railroad. She has to lie continually about why she misses meals and is so tired. She feels justified, helping slaves escape from the evil, blackened hearts of the Southerners. And yet she comes to love the Benningtons and the Hunts. They're good people despite slavery. As for Alexander, well, he's an arrogant, lazy, rich Southern who must have gotten someone else to do his fighting for the Confederacy.
She doesn't know Alexander is the Gray Wraith, a Southern Robin Hood who's stealing horses, food, medical supplies, and money from the Union Army. He leads his band with orders there be no killing and no profiteering. Some of the men resent his edict and help themselves to blunder. His second-in-command believes Alexander is blinded by the Yankee "spy" and follows Emily to discover her activities. When Alexander dismisses nine men for an unauthorized raid, one of them reveals his identity to the Union. Both Emily and Alexander are in danger with nooses as their likely fate.
Harvest House provided a free copy for the purpose of review; however I was not required to make it positive.
Mary Ellis definitely has a Great book with "The Quaker and the Rebel". It is different from her Amish novels. This book takes place during the Civil War. She has a real talent just describing the Southern homes and Plantations and the way some of the people had to live, I felt like I was right there with them. The Quaker and the Rebel is a must read, once I started I could not put it down, I even learned a few things about the war.
I really think this book could be classified with Gone with the Wind. AWESOME. This book would make a wonderful Christmas present
The Quaker and the Rebel by Mary Ellis is the first book in the Civil War Heroines series. I enjoyed this book, and I loved how the author was able to skip over huge sections of time without losing the continuity of the story. She spanned four years in a single book! Pretty impressive. How Emily grows, changes, and matures is one of the best parts of the story. She realizes life isn't as easy to figure out as she thought, and Alexander becomes more firm in his faith.
Emily Harrison, a Quaker, moves from the free state of Ohio to Virginia. Surrounded by excess and the abominable institution of slavery, Emily starts working in the Underground Railroad while working for her Southern employers. But when she meets her employer's nephew, she finds herself confused and torn. How could a slaveholder be so fascinating to her?
Alexander is more than he seems. He serves the Confederacy without his family's knowledge and is known as the Grey Wraith to the Union. He somehow manages to steal supplies and money from the Union soldiers without using weapons or harming anyone. When Alexander meets Emily, he finds himself drawn to her honesty, forthrightness, and her faith. As he begins to question is family's part in slavery, he finds himself falling in love with Emily.
I really enjoyed this story especially how the two main characters grow and change with not only their maturity but their faith in God. I kept wondering how these two very different people would ever be able to get together. Actually, one of the best parts of the book was the banter between Alexander and Emily!
I was given this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
In the first of her series of Civil War Heroines, Mary Ellis pits an abolitionist Quaker maid against a Rebel leader of a band of rangers. Having no family left, Emily Harrison agrees to be a governess in the Bennington household in Virginia, making it clear that her Quaker convictions cannot abide slavery. When her charges are sent to Europe for safety, Emily stays on as a companion to the lady of house so that she can aid slaves through the underground railroad. Alexander Hunt, nephew of Mrs. Bennington, has fallen far from the Quaker ideals his mother imparted in his youth, though he refuses to harm or kill in his role as the Grey Wraith, the leader of a band of rangers who plague the Union by stealing their goods. In spite of strongly differing opinions with Emily and the danger he flirts with in pursuing a Yankee, he finds himself falling for her. Can two people so firmly on opposite sides of the war fall in love without compromising their convictions?
For a Quaker, a person of peace and simplicity, Emily is extremely strong-minded, apt to lose her temper, and tempted toward vanities - she likes pretty dresses, a touch of make-up, and a bit of male attention. She is quick to judge the Benningtons and Hunts as evil for keeping slaves, even under much fairer and more positive conditions than much of the South, yet she promptly lies to them and uses them to further her own ends, not to mention judges them (and does so unfairly). Given her tendency toward bigotry, an apt verse for her would be, "How can you say to your brother, 'let me remove the speck from your eye,' and look, a plank is in your own? Hypocrite! Remove first the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matt 7:4-5). She has far to go to realize the kindness and goodness in her employers and their family.
Given that Emily and Alexander are firmly planted on opposite sides of the war, I could not anticipate how they were going to compromise enough develop a relationship in the first place, let alone forge one strong enough to survive the war. Both Emily and Alexander are stiff with pride; she is strongly prejudiced against the South and he against the North, and though they both agree that slavery is wrong, they disagree on how to abolish it. However, they both grow - Emily out of her bigoted idealism, and Alexander out of the dissipated lifestyle into which he had fallen.
The story grew on me. At first I was frustrated with both of the main characters - Emily especially - but as the plot increases in danger and excitement and they learn to set aside their prejudices, they improve remarkably. Since neither the North nor the South embodies "good" or "evil," and since neither character is secretly working on the same side as the other, I could not anticipate what the outcome of the story would be, other than supposing that the two would find a way to compromise and fall in love and knowing that the Union would ultimately win. Would Alexander abandon his role as the Grey Wraith to be with Emily? Would he join Emily in helping slaves to freedom? Would Emily get herself caught while freeing slaves? Would battle catch up with them and strike them with the deaths of friends and family? It is nice to read a novel in which the plot could go so many different ways that one cannot expect what is to come. 4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you Harvest House and Netgalley for providing a free, advance e-copy for the purpose of review. I was not required to make it positive; all opinions expressed are my own.