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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I initially overlooked this book as its title suggested some soppy romance; even after reading the book description, I wasn't sure it wouldn't be some crinoline rustler - but no, this is an excellent, moving and thoroughly well-researched novel.

The triple-stranded story tells of Johnny Tom, a Chinese man who eventually finds himself fighting in the Union Army against the Confederate South, hoping to gain citizenship and be re-united with his wife and daughter. Meanwhile his daughter, Era Tom, has become a nurse, using the neutrality of her position to spy for the Union. She did not, however, expect to fall in love with one of her Confederate patients...

Davenport presents a wonderfully sweeping account of her character's lives and experiences; Johnny's escape from the hardships of China only to encounter the brutal racial prejudices and cruelties of slavery in America; the glittering and horrific spectacles of the Civil War and the torturous psychological dilemmas Era faces in spying for one side but living and sharing the hardships of the other.
The author`s prose is at times lyrical and beautifully descriptive; her grasp of the historical setting impressive; she clearly and accurately relates the facts of the military engagements her characters are party and witness to; even relatively minor details in the grand order of these massive historical events - like the fate of the hundreds of thousands of wartime photographic plates; the South's clandestine poppy fields used for opium production, the care required for the overwhelming numbers of disabled after the war - all are factually-based elements woven into her narrative.
Davenport subtly lays bare the global nature of intolerance and slavery, from China and Eastern Europe to the "freedom" of the new United States of America and the need for minorities to trust one another as they slowly begin the process of becoming part of it; perhaps it is the third character, Warren Petticomb, the battle-damaged young cavalryman who falls for Era, and his difficult odyssey through the war and the country's peacetime reconstruction who delivers the author`s message of hope, acceptance and faith in humanity - you will have to read the book to find that out for yourself.

This is a book that pulls no punches; it is visceral in the descriptions of battle and the evils that mankind is capable of; at its heart there is both a love story and a moving tale of the resilience of the human spirit.
I can only recommend such a fine and emotionally powerful novel with a five star rating.
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on 19 October 2012
Kiana weaves a tale of war, of loss, of separation, of injury and like a beam of sunlight on a stormy day a tale of love that reaches across the divides of race and loyalty.
Long on the American civil war this story at times reads like a distillation of excessive research. The detail grounds this tale and breathes life into the central characters, at the cost of loosing the reader in the blood and gore of combat.
I understand a little better now how the American civil war divided and gave hope to many, only to be disillusioned.
The ending was I thought appropriate, a healing and a future after the horror of civil war.
A good book, worth reading, a worthy reminder of the horrors of civil war and the eternal nature of lover across the divide.
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on 24 October 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After only a couple of chapters , I had already had enough. The author's attempts to describe dire scenes were so incredible that I could not help but find them humorous. It was as if Stephen Spielberg had written a sceenplay for Troma Studios: a festival of schmaltz and gore.

There is a Chinese family that comes from a village in a swamp area, in the valley of the might Yellow River, but there is no water. No-one in the village can make fire. I am not sure whether it is meant to be a parasitic worm or a woman's own intestines that are pulled out of a woman and shared among the villagers to eat. Whatever it is, it should not have eyes and a head the size of a man's thumb.

We are asked to believe that soldiers are deliberately risking their own lives by fermenting the bodies of dead prisoners, not to mention ignoring the putrid stench.

Valuable gasoline is squandered in an extravagant vile execution of a spy.

One of the oddest early descriptions is " ... buzzards in the distance swooning over corpses of horses and mules." Perhaps swooning means something quite different in America.

The prose style is semi-poetic, which makes it much more of an effort to digest. The writer further complicates by jolting between past and present, and North and South.

Identifying with the characters I found to be quite impossible.

The stories do at least make steady progress: I can say nothing more positive than that.
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on 28 November 2013
I absolutely loved this book. Ms Davenport has such a wonderful style of writing that is almost poetic in a Kiplingesque kind of way, and somehow that goes with the tragic scenes she describes. If you've ever read Kipling's Four Feathers then maybe you'll know what I mean. I learned some history too, especially the massacre of the Chinese after the civil war. Such brutal times, and so much tragedy for many years to come.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have not read any of Ms Davenport's work before, but from what I have read this book, for me, it appears to have been well researched with lashings of action - added in there also is romance. The American Civil war is an area that I am not well versed in, but I was surprised by that South/Confederacy grew poppy fields. I knew that Chinese immigrants were used and abused while building railway lines in the 19th century in North America, and knew nothing about their involvement in the American Civil war. This book was very good and the characters were both well rounded and interesting, by the end of the book I was left me wanting to know more about Chinese immigrant experience in 19th and early 20th Century America as well more about the cultural and political dynamics of the Civil War.
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on 21 October 2013
As someone who knew nothing about the American Civil War, I found this was an interesting and often harrowing novel which I enjoyed, but was glad to finish, having found the many descriptions portraying the brutality of war quite distressing.I felt it was well written (some brief sections being rather 'text book' in nature)and the author must have done an enormous amount of research to include so much detail.I feel I know a lot more about this period in American history now and the three main characters in the story were believable.I would certainly recommend the book even though it is not a 'comfortable' read.
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on 4 October 2014
Personally this is one of the best books that I have ever read, set in the American Civil War ,it is a bit gory in parts but gives an insight of the true conditions of what it must have been like, it was a book that I did not want to put down, a remarkable story line based around three central characters, I will defy anyone who reads this book not to be moved after reading it. Brilliant reading.
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on 17 October 2013
This book took my eye as, although I obviously know of the American civil war I
strangely know almost nothing about it. I am quite into spy novels at the moment and
hoped this may also give me some feel for the war.
I enjoyed the story, the book is pretty well written, and it proved a great introduction
into the civil war and its impact on the American people. Including many thought
provoking issues such as the industry of poppy production in the south to produce drugs,
the business opportunity provided by the war for the new photographic industry, and the
American slave trade.
All in all very much worth a read.
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on 18 February 2014
My first book by this author and a really stunning introduction to her. The battlefield descriptions are not for the faint-hearted, but the insights it gives into Chinese migrants' involvement in the US civil war must be unique, and it's wonderfully written
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on 27 November 2013
I am not one for romance novels, but I was drawn to the book after reading the description, and the historical setting. This is not a simple romance, this is a well researched, beautifully written book

I finished this book back in April and immediate wrote this on Goodreads:

** spoiler alert ** Somehow I don't think I'll forget how I felt as I read the last fifth of this book, but I want to write now as I finish it in case I do, so if my thoughts seem a little jumbled they are.

The ending of this book, I was blown away by the language used. Left almost breathless by the strength of feeling between the main protagonists, the prose was so rich so real so overwhelming. I am simply shell shocked.
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