All the ladies of Covington are back in this special holiday novel. Amelia, Hannah and Grace gather at the house to open and discuss a box of letters and diaries found when Max was doing some renovation work. The letters and diaries date from the Civil War and as the women read them, they are drawn into the stories of two very different men.
John Foster, a Union soldier, joined the Army for his own reasons. He is from Connecticut and when he finds himself wounded in a ditch must rely on the goodwill of a Rebel soldier and a Southern woman for help. His letters detail his struggles with the atrocities of war and what he will do when the war ends. Will he return home—to a life he is not sure he wants anymore? Or will he stay where he is and build a new life? John’s voice clearly shines through the letters that he writes. We see his education and understand his turmoil.
Tom Mueller is a Confederate soldier who finds himself wounded in a ditch with a Union soldier. He has to decide whether or not to help the man who most would consider his enemy. When they are rescued by an elderly Southern woman, Ella Mae Evans, Tom must also decide what he is going to do. His letters and diaries show a man who has little education and has lived his whole life as a farmer.
This story is not a romance. It has some romantic qualities in that we see the relationships that John and Tom build with women they meet, but that is not the focus of this book. This book is truly focused on the connections one has with one’s past. After reading the letters and diaries, Amelia, Hannah and Grace decide to find the descendants of John and Tom and to bring them all together for the holidays. They want the current relatives to know what happened to their ancestors and to hear their struggles through the words of John and Tom.
I loved the historical approach that this novel took. The voices of the two men as they tell their stories about the Civil War showcase the horrors that they both experienced. We can see their different reactions and the different atrocities that they saw. John certainly struggles more with the violence that he experienced and he details the Post Traumatic Stress that he felt upon leaving the Army. Both men discuss having to hide out so they are not shot as deserters and then trying to figure out how to have a life after the war ends. The letters are part of the story as is the dedication the three women feel toward bringing the descendants together.
Although not a romance, Ms. Medlicott doesn’t disappoint her readers by neglecting the growing feelings between Sarina and Denny. Both of these characters are showcased in the novel and we see them take the next step in building a life together. Fear not, all the characters from her previous book are in this one and we see them grow and change. I don’t think Ms. Medlicott’s fans will be disappointed with the direction this book takes them.