By Angie Georgeff
All Americans know that our Civil War was a tragic chapter in our history, but people who live in Northeast Tennessee are even more keenly aware of it than most. With loyalties to North and South so evenly—and bitterly—divided, neighbor fought neighbor, cousin fought cousin and sometimes brother fought brother.
Patricia McGrane is a native of Washington County and stories passed down within her family informed her novel “Because of the Horses.” The story is set around Limestone, Tennessee during the summer of 1863. Both the Confederate and Federal armies are active in the area, with the looming campaign for Knoxville the focus of their efforts. Both armies need horses, so anyone who has mounts they can buy or steal is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Presbyterian minister Eli Marsh serves several small congregations. Some favor the Union and some the Confederacy, so he strives to maintain neutrality despite his Unionist leanings. He also has a large number of horses, and that complicates matters. Deserters pose a risk to everyone and two of the Marsh family’s abolitionist neighbors have already been murdered. How can Eli balance the competing claims of family, vocation and conscience in that explosive environment?
If you would like to meet the author, Patricia McGrane will be here at the library on Friday, March 23, from 4-6 p.m. to sell and sign “Because of the Horses.” She will be donating one half of sale receipts to the library.
Although Alaska is far too cold to be one of the places on my “to visit” bucket list, I do enjoy reading about it. It appears that lots of people feel the same way. Kristen Hannah’s “The Great Alone” currently sits atop the New York Times list of bestselling fiction. The novel is redolent of the time (the 1970s) and the place (the wilderness of Alaska).
After returning from Vietnam, a former POW takes his wife and daughter to Alaska to live on a homestead that was left to him by a buddy who died in the war. The hardships of their new home do nothing to mitigate Ernt Allbright’s PTSD. Cora and 13-year-old Leni, however, are buoyed by the help of their quirky, yet caring neighbors. With monikers like Large Marge and Mad Earl, you can hardly wait to meet them all.
“The Great Alone” was donated to the library by the Criterion Book Club in memory of Lucille Davis.