From Publishers Weekly
With tremendous narrative pace, a meticulous eye for colorful detail and a tight grasp of historical setting and military action, poet and novelist Morgan (Gap Creek) delivers a rousing and affecting tale of the American Revolution. This gripping story of love and desperation is set in the brutal rebel-versus-loyalist bloodbath of 1780-1781 in North and South Carolina. Sixteen-year-old Josie Summers, a barefoot mountain girl, runs away from home after killing the stepfather who raped her. Alone, scared and hungry, having witnessed all kinds of violence, Josie disguises herself as a boy and is given shelter by an itinerant preacher, Rev. John Trethman. The preacher soon discovers her deception, but they become devoted to one another, and John marries her in a solitary ceremony. The two continue the deception to fool his congregation and the British authorities who are ruthlessly hunting for spies and seditionists. When John is taken prisoner by the British, who think he is a spy, Josie, now pregnant, believes her husband is dead. Still disguised as the boy Joseph, she joins a South Carolina militia company marching to the fateful battle at Cowpens in January 1781. Josie endures hunger, cold, grief, fear of discovery and the dangerous attentions of a cruel sergeant who guesses her secret. Meanwhile, John is forced to become a chaplain for the murderous dragoon legion commanded by sadistic Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton and his Tories are also marching to Cowpens, to a battle which will become known as the American Cannae. Morgan's portrayal of the savagery of the Southern war is graphic and shocking, making the love between Josie and John all the more tender and passionate.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Morgan has fashioned an absorbing Revolutionary War novel featuring an unusually resourceful heroine. Disguised as a man, 16-year-old Josie Summers escapes from a life of madness and exploitation after murdering her sexually and emotionally abusive stepfather. Traveling the Carolina backcountry, she crosses paths with John Trethman, an evangelical preacher who befriends the boy he knows as "Joseph." When John discovers that his new housemate is really a female, he is torn between anger and love. Hoping to absolve their sins, Josie and John privately marry, still keeping her identity a secret. Shortly thereafter, John is kidnapped by British troops and forced to serve as their minister. After Josie sets out after John, she is forced into service as a member of the North Carolina militia, where she attempts to keep both her gender and her pregnancy concealed. Sustained by love and faith, Josie and John survive their respective ordeals, eventually reuniting on the heels of a horrific battle. The homespun dialogue and understated narrative authenticate this heartrending period peace. Margaret Flanagan
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