Wedded to War (Heroines Behind the Lines) Paperback – 1 Jul 2012
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Wow, what an amazing story based on real women in history. When I finished the last page of this book I was changed, much like how I felt after watching "Dances with Wolves" and "Gone with the Wind." Both movies opened my eyes to things I never thought of before or knew existed and it changed how I viewed periods of American history. If only our history book in school was this exciting and memorable. Grin! This is a great book club pick as there is so much to talk about in it. This book is to be experienced and then shared with friends. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent The Book Club Network
"Fascinating, dramatic, and romantic, "Wedded to War" by Jocelyn Green sheds light on the harrowing world of Civil War nursing through the eyes of a delightful heroine. Detailed research and a powerful message about mercy make this story a keeper. This is the first in the Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War series, and I'm much anticipating the second book!" - Review by Sarah Sundin, SarahSundin.blogspot.com, 7/12/12
Wow, what an amazing story based on real women in history. When I finished the last page of this book I was changed, much like how I felt after watching Dances with Wolves and Gone with the Wind. Both movies opened my eyes to things I never thought of before or knew existed and it changed how I viewed periods of American history. If only our history book in school was this exciting and memorable. Grin! This is a great book club pick as there is so much to talk about in it. This book is to be experienced and then shared with friends. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent The Book Club Network
"Fascinating, dramatic, and romantic, Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green sheds light on the harrowing world of Civil War nursing through the eyes of a delightful heroine. Detailed research and a powerful message about mercy make this story a keeper. This is the first in the Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War series, and I'm much anticipating the second book!" - Review by Sarah Sundin, SarahSundin.blogspot.com, 7/12/12
From the Back Cover
When war erupted, she gave up a life of privilege for a life of significance.
Tending to the army's sick and wounded meant leading a life her mother does not understand and giving up a handsome and approved suitor. Yet Charlotte chooses a life of service over privilege, just as her childhood friend had done when he became a military doctor. She soon discovers that she's combatting more than just the rebellion by becoming a nurse. Will the two men who love her simply stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or will their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?
Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey's letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured. This is the first in the series "Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War," a collection of novels that highlights the crucial contributions made by women during times of war.
JocelynGreen is an award-winning author, freelance writer and editor. A former military wife, she authored, along with contributing writers, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and Faith Deployed . . . Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. Jocelyn is also co-author for Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan, which won the Gold Medal from Military Writers Society of America. She maintains her own award-winning Web site for military wives at www.faithdeployed.com.See all Product description
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PUBLISHER: RIVER NORTH
PUBLICATION DATE: JULY 1, 2012
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 - GOOD
PROS: Well-researched; easy to read; relatively unexplored topic in Christian historical fiction
CONS: Historical details often feel dumped rather than woven into story; third love interest feels unnecessary; Ruby's story feels unfinished; too many perspectives
When the opportunity arises to train as a nurse to aid the Civil War effort, privileged Charlotte Waverly feels called to volunteer. But despite her desire to offer her services, her family and the doctors she works beside are disapproving and unreceptive to her efforts. As her mother and beau continue to be scandalised by her new occupation, Charlotte finds the hospitals where she offers her aid begin to relent and admit that they require the assistance of nurses, even if they are female. But as the war drags on, it becomes apparent that Charlotte will not be returning to her family in New York any time soon. The pressure from her mother and beau piles on, and Charlotte has to consider whether nursing is God's ultimate plan for her or if she should give up her job in order to marry. But could she really marry someone who is so disapproving of the work she feels called to? When a man from her past reappears, Charlotte feels even more challenged about the direction in which she should take her life.
Meanwhile, Irish immigrant Ruby O'Flannery has waved her husband off to war and is still struggling to make ends meet. Her husband's military wages have yet to arrive, and Ruby can't pay her rent with the meagre money she makes from her sewing. As the days turn to weeks, and still no news comes from her husband, she is forced to move out of her apartment and look for other options. Life as a servant appears to be her best option, but after a horrific occurrence, Ruby is forced to leave her place of employment and turn towards a career that only the hopeless choose. When she receives some devastating news, a female doctor takes pity on her and sends her to Washington to aid Charlotte and the other female nurses. Ruby's life looks like it might take a turn for the better. Could this second chance rekindle her faith in God?
Although I spent my entire senior year of high school studying the US Civil War, I don't think I've actually read many fictional accounts of the war. But Jocelyn Green's novel appealed to me as I like to read about unconventional woman, and despite how incredibly squeamish I am, my mother has been a nurse for over twenty years. Wedded to War satisfied the historian in me to some extent, and I could tell from the start that the novel had been meticulously researched. This isn't your typical historical romance novel with a couple of facts hastily thrown in to make it feel authentic. The romance itself isn't at the forefront of the novel, and I appreciated being able to witness Charlotte's character development before she ultimately made the decision on whether or not she should marry.
That said, some readers may be frustrated at the way the historical facts are presented in Wedded to War. As a student of history, I could appreciate how much research Jocelyn had done, and enjoyed reading her notes about the inspiration for the story. But even I felt that the historical details were, at times, not as gently woven into the story as they could have been. I enjoyed the extracts from Georgeanna Woolsey's letters that were interspersed throughout the novel, but there were times when characters quoted from reports and newspapers that felt a bit forced and awkward. I would have preferred to have seen the filth and devastation of some of the hospitals, rather than have a character read a report on the matter. Since I do spend a fair amount of my time reading primary source documents, I like to read a fictional account of history when I pick up a novel, not a regurgitation of a document that I could probably gain access to if I tried. For those who aren't scholars of history, this might not be so much of an issue, but I do hope that the smoother integration of history and fiction is something that Jocelyn focuses on in her next novel.
In her attempts to present as many perspectives on the US Civil War as possible, Jocelyn introduced far more characters than I expected. As well as Charlotte and Ruby, we also have Phineas, Charlotte's beau, her sister and her husband, a doctor and a chaplain. While each of these characters did provide details on different elements of the war experience, I did sometimes feel that I connected with certain characters more than others. While I sympathised with Charlotte and Ruby in particular, and grew to hate Phineas, I never truly got to know Caleb, the doctor, or Edward, the chaplain. In fact, Edward's perspective sometimes felt unnecessary, and I wasn't entirely sure why he was introduced as a third love-interest for Charlotte.
At times, I almost felt that I enjoyed Ruby's sections of the story more than Charlotte's. It was empowering to see Charlotte forcing herself to stay strong despite the horrors she witnessed in her nursing endeavours, but Ruby's situation was so much more precarious. I appreciated that Jocelyn chose to write about women in Ruby's position, who were sometimes forced to turn towards disreputable work in order to support themselves and their families. The treatment of one event in particular and Ruby's guilt and disgrace afterward really evoked sympathy for all the women who were forced to remain silent about the way they'd been treated for fear of social ruin. I was pleased that Ruby's story had an optimistic ending, but did feel that her story was left unfinished. I would have preferred a more conclusive ending to Ruby's story.
Despite the amount of research Jocelyn put into her novel, Wedded to War makes for a surprisingly easy read. I sped through it far faster than I expected, and although some details are a little gruesome, I really got a feel for how it was to be a nurse during the Civil War. As a fiction debut, Wedded to War shows a lot of promise, and I hope that Jocelyn's writing matures as the Heroines Behind the Lines series develops. Wedded to War won't be joining my list of favourite historical novels due to my gripes with the presentation of historical facts and some story-telling elements, but I'm glad that I had the opportunity to learn about some of the lesser known elements of the Civil War. I'm sure that anyone who reads this novel will come out with a greater respect for the women who fought to become nurses.
Charlotte Waverley isn't the usual simpering, helpless heroine. She's feisty and brave and flawed.
I've already cast the film in my head! Benedict Cumberbatch for Caleb Lansing!
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Well, I may have to take that back, or at least add to it. Ruby O'Flannery is a great example of feminine power and grace as well. As a former prostitute, she realistically struggles with the idea that anyone, even and especially God, could love her. Yet she gradually opens herself up to Edward, Charlotte, and others, and finds her efforts rewarded. Through Ruby, Jocelyn crafts a strong spiritual thread undergirded with some breath-stealing plot twists. This series is called Women Behind the Lines, and it certainly gives you a glimpse of feminine battles, internal and external, not often explored with such depth in Christian fiction. After this I was anxious to read the other books.
Jocelyn Green does an excellent job bringing her characters to life and the settings are described so well. Even the secondary characters are painted with a fine brush.
I love that the author does extensive research and blends in a great history lesson within the storyline. What sticks with me the most from reading this book is the realistic portrayal of the time period and how difficult the war was for everyone. Having learned about the female nurses was quite interesting as I didn't know there were any during that time period.
If you enjoy learning about the Civil War and like a well written novel, Wedded to War is one you should read. I'm really looking forward to starting the next book in this series.
Our Georgeanna stand-in is Charlotte Waverly, a New York socialite who is beginning to grow old enough to hear "old maid" whispers. Always a bit unconventional, Charlotte is interested in helping with the war effort in any way she can. When she hears about training beginning to be offered for female nurses, she's determined to be among the first who answer the call, even though it means going against the wishes of her mother and the man who is courting her.
The resistance of those close to home is nothing like what Charlotte faces both in getting into the program and once she travels to Washington. The Army is convinced that women have no business nursing wounded soldiers, no matter how great the need. Yet once the battles begin, they begrudgingly allow Charlotte to begin assisting - but only with the most menial, humiliating tasks.
Alongside Charlotte, this is also the story of Ruby, an Irish immigrant whose husband has enlisted. The poverty she's known in New York slums only grows worse as Matthew's paycheck fails to arrive. In desperate straights, Ruby is forced to consider prostitution in order to keep food on the table.
I did not enjoy this book as much as I anticipated. I think I would have enjoyed a book about Georgeanna herself more than this fictional account. I felt there were too many point of view characters who did not serve a real purpose, and for some reason I never felt a connection with Charlotte. This may have been because the main antagonist is so horrifying that it was hard to understand why she couldn't see through him, and I could not understand what was preventing her and the man she truly loved from expressing their feelings. There were also sexual assault scenes, which while tactfully written, still were disturbing.
The historical side of this novel was quite interesting. Another series on the development of the nursing field is Sarah Sundin's Wings of a Nightingale, which focuses on the first flight nurses during World War II. I would recommend those books before this one, but I will probably check out more Jocelyn Green books in the future, as her 2017 release was so good.
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