Excellent story; in-depth look at Civil War nurses
May 18, 2014
An Old Fashioned Girl
The first of her Heroines Behind the Lines, Wedded to War highlights author Jocelyn Green's in-depth look at nursing in the Civil War through her headstrong heroine Charlotte Waverly.
The treatment of female nurses in the Civil War was appalling. It never occurred to me that at one time, nursing in America, especially when involving the military, was man's domain. The conditions and trials women had to deal with to help people were shocking; many surgeons, not actually allowed to bar them from helping, made the women's lives as miserable as possible to drive them away.
Normally I would consider the fewer the number of viewpoints in a story the better, but Green uses her secondary characters - all six viewpoints besides Charlotte's - well; not only do they advance the plot, but they provide a more complete picture of the times. Ruby O'Flannery, whose viewpoint is second only to Charlotte, highlights the poor immigrants of New York, giving us a glimpse of how easily their poor living could spiral downward until there were no options left. Her downtrodden personality and circumstances provide a foil to Charlotte's wealthy upbringing and bold approach to life. Mr. Olmsted acts as a conduit for the Sanitary Commission, giving us a greater picture of its behind-the-scenes triumphs and frustrations and the fight to convince the government of its importance. A young seminary student out to prove his worth, Edward Goodrich offers one more minor - but terribly important - view to the carnage of war: he is a chaplain, expected to bring healing to these wounded soldiers' souls, but he can't himself see God among the carnage and despair of war, let alone feel he can show God to these men. The doubts that assail him are the sort that could plague any believer when faced with something so far removed from our safe, peaceful Christianity.
By deliberately choosing a profession that highlights her weakness - dealing with illness of any kind - Charlotte encourages us to overcome our fears, follow our dreams, and keep doing what is right, even when it seems everyone is against us. Boldly she fights for the right to help people, defying age and beauty restrictions, disrespectful doctors, and discouragement from her set in society. Do not be discouraged when it is hard; as Charlotte says, "Just because something is difficult doesn't mean it isn't worth doing," (275).
Green portrays the determination of the female nurses in compelling narrative, while providing a harshly realistic view of their duties in the Civil War. Though there is romance, it is secondary to Charlotte's fascinating calling. A powerful tale - 5 out of 5 stars!
Charlotte Waverly has all she needs to succeed in life - money, affluence and a considerate, patient suitor. When the Civil War breaks out, she feels as if she needs to do more than just sew uniforms and put together supplies for the war effort like all the other women are doing. Upon seeing an article in the newspaper reaching out to the public about the need for nurses, she quickly decides that it is something she can do. Despite the opposition of her mother, and to the horror of her beau, Phineas Hastings, she embarks on her journey.
What she discovers is not at all what she expected. She expected opposition, but not downright hate, disrespect, and resistance to female nurses. Between the overwhelming lack of supplies and medicines for the wounded, and the horrific unpreparedness of the Union Army's Medical Department; Charlotte knows she has found a worthy cause to be a part of despite the fact that her abilities, faith, and perseverance are sorely tested. Will she be able to press on toward a calling she believes she is destined to fulfill? Or will she crack under the strain of a profession no one believes she should have?
I know that nurses weren't always as highly respected as they are today. But I never realized just how hard it was to be a nurse during the Civil War. This novel was not only informative, but rich with history and heart. I found myself cheering Charlotte on, despite the opposition and hardship, and hoping she would succeed against all odds. A very enjoyable and well written novel from first-time author Green.
This book was provided from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
** spoiler alert ** This has to be my favorite Civil War story I've read. I haven't read many, but the ones I've read are ALL the same, so this was nice in it's uniqueness. :)
Some of the cases Charlotte dealt with as a nurse were a little nasty, but that's obviously expected, and nothing was too gory. Charlotte's devotion to and selflessness in caring for the soldiers was really sweet and I loved reading the parts where she would make her rounds of simply giving them water or talking to them.
There was in the secondary character's story the subject of the prostitution all around her (she comes from Five Points), but the author never got into the subject in detail, and "rescued" Ruby from the slums as soon as she could. ;) In Ruby's story was also a strong theme of life and mercy that was really touching, and when she's debating with herself about the option of abortion vs life ~ the message was really powerful! (Aiden O'Flannery was such a sweet baby!! ^_^)
The tons of scriptures included were really great and had perfect timing- and it didn't seem as if the author was continually preaching at the reader, but her message was still really clear and convicting.
The entire story was really gripping and I really enjoyed it; however, the ending was incredible! =D It was "any other great book" until I reached the last three chapters! It was like an entire new plot unfolded with new characters and intrigue. Really amazing. :) Very satisfactory ending!
As a side note, I really loved Jacob Carlisle (Charlotte's brother-in-law)! Since Charlotte has no father or brother, Jacob is pretty much her legal protector; thus when Charlotte is in trouble with the villain, it's Jacob who comes and defends her and orders the offender out. It was just really different from most novels - where the hero usually comes in, saves the day, and the light dawns on the heroine and she realizes she's in love - it was so much more realistic and was actually (I thought ;)) the best scene in the book! I just really liked that he took on his role seriously as his sister-in-laws guardian and defended her like a man- and that the heroine LET him! :P
In closing, this was a really enjoyable- though serious-themed- and touching story. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will enjoy this immensely.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this
If this is Jocelyn Green's debut novel, wow, what will the next be like?!
I was amazed by this book! The flavor, the very writing style, of Wedded to War is Civil War Era.
I have read quite a few books from the 1800's for school so I have become somewhat familiar with the writing patterns from that time, this book has it!
I was very impressed with the author's attention to detail. Not only were there things that I recognized from reading books from the time period but I also learned a lot of new things. I love history, even read history text books for fun, but the joy of learning through a story is even better.
This was one of the few books, Christian Fiction especially, that spoke of the dirt and filth of war. There were no glorious charges and victories like you see in the movies. No, Wedded to War talks about the lack of supplies and the sometimes needless deaths because of that, the day to day care of washing and feeding wounded and severely ill men, the feeling of helplessness to cure the hurts and wrongs, the questioning of where God is in all of it. This book isn't gory and hopeless, though. It is also the story of redemption, of kindness to strangers, of learning God's will for a person's life and doing it, of finding and/or making your place in this world, of determination and rising above for the good of others.
Each of the characters, except the villain of course, became a friend. It was like invisibly standing over their shoulder, being there, seeing and feeling what they did. The reader is drawn in and for a little while the struggles of the characters become your struggles.
Well written and thought provoking, I am glad that I took the time to read Wedded to War.
I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in this series, The Widow Of Gettysburg.
(I received this book from Moody Publishers (River North) in exchange for my honest opinion.)
*This book was sent to me from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review. All opinions and comments are my own*
This book has a good storyline and was very well written. Jocelyn Green has a way of capturing the characters emotions.
Charlotte grew up very wealthy and proper and enjoyed her life. However, when the Civil War broke out, she felt the urge to help the soldiers who were doing so much to help their country. So, she did the unthinkable in her mother's eyes and became a nurse.
Now, I am sorry to say that I did not finish the book. There was quite a bit of impure and violent scenes from a sexual perspective that I did care to read. As I said, this book has a good storyline but with the repeating details from above, I do not recommend this book to really anyone under 18.