Publishers Weekly, 1998-07-06 Based on actual letters written by Civil War soldier Wiley Nesmith to his wife, this surprisingly lifeless novel chronicles the young Confederate private's combat hardships with the Army of Northern Virginia. Wiley is ordered to leave his pregnant teenage wife on their Georgia farm in the spring of 1862; with his six older brothers, he marches off to the war. Surviving numerous bloody battles, he does not return home until after Lee's surrender in 1865. While the narrative generally fails to realize the dramatic impact of the conflict, Floyd does animate the plight of Wiley's "petite and perky" wife, Martha Ann, who faces down marauders on the home front. These flashes of life are wasted, however, amid a hodgepodge of woodenly rendered characters and pedestrian plot threads (including the moribund clich? of the kindly paternal bond between slave and master). Occasionally overwritten, Floyd's (Great Southern Mysteries) prose is more often curiously flat and squeaky clean ("Peas and dumplings! That was his favorite dish. A broad smile broke across his tanned, dirty face"). One feels that the novel might have been more successfully addressed to young readers than to adults. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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