Historical Fiction … A Novel of the American Civil War
“ I killed a man the summer I turned thirteen. Sometimes I still see him in my dreams, his eyes as blue as the Gulf on a clear spring morning, his cheeks reddened by the hot Louisiana sun. ” page 1.
This is a powerful and harrowing story about a young girl named Armie coming-of -age in Louisiana during the American Civil War. While almost every able-bodied man from the area is north fighting for the confederates, the women and children remain at home trying to maintain their dwellings, families and businesses. Almost every family has already lost a son, father, or relative, and the ones who haven’t, live in fear of that awful news. Armie’s situation is unusual because, although her father is a physician with the confederate army, her parents were staunch abolitionists before the war. This earns them the mistrust of several of their neighbours at a time when mutual support is a lifeline. In the spring of 1862, the union troops were beginning to steam up the Mississippi River and the citizens were besieged by army raiding parties; stealing and killing their livestock, burning their properties, and violating the women. The population was starving and disease was rampant while the union soldiers helped themselves to anything and everything they could find. Some women choose not to live with the repercussions of rape, they would rather die.
And young Armie tries to make sense of a situation that is senseless, to understand a world that is in chaos, to recognise and adapt to the villainy and evil that she sees in men’s souls through their actions. Not always successfully. She asks lots of questions about God and she doesn’t get answers that satisfy her. The two wisest people in her life are her own mother and an old former slave and they are only partially able to answer her questions.
“Life is unfair” is a quote from John Kennedy…and probably every teenager that ever lived. But there is unfair (my parents won’t buy me a new bike like all my friends have) and there is unfair ( I live in fear everyday over the new atrocities tomorrow could bring, and I wonder if I will survive.)
The truth is a little sickening and certainly not unique to this particular war; that the murdering, pillaging and rape of women and children IS a weapon of war. It is demoralizing for the citizens and their fighting soldiers.
At one point in this novel young Armie is put in a position that no 13-year- old should ever have to face. There are strong women in her family and she has some good role models. In fact the village women’s’ strength can be a revelation at times especially since some of them had been Southern Belles in their former life.
I never like to give away too much with a plot but this novel had me riveted to every page. It was engrossing, interesting and thought-provoking. It was also heartbreaking, agonizing and tragic.
Many readers will be familiar with C. S. Harris, since she is the author of the very successful “Sebastien St. Cyr” mystery series with eleven entries so far. I have read them all (love them) and I suppose that is how I found this novel. I am glad I did because this is a powerhouse.
I am not a huge fan of the title although I can understand why it was chosen. GOOD TIME COMING is a line from a song poular before the war and it certainly speaks of hope. And sometimes hope is all you have to get through. It just doesn’t seem strong enough for this powerful novel.—just my opinion.
GOOD TIME COMING
C. S. Harris
Severn House Publishers