Louise Ripley is an avid reader of the American Civil War. This book, her first, tells the story of a young gay man who rides with General J.E.B. Stuart, head of General Robert E. Lee's cavalry in the Army of the Confederate States of America. Louise grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, a town located on one of the spots where General JEB Stuart once pitched camp, not far from the Bull Run (Manassas) battlefield.
This said, she is no Southern sympathizer. She is a Yankee born and bred, and for the last 40 years a Canadian. Louise spent 35 years as a university professor of Business; and in the School of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, where a major part of her work included advertising to minority groups. The theme of A Love of War is survival when you don't fit in.
She placed her hero, Liam, in the Confederate army because he is gay and it would have been a particularly terrible place in which to survive as a gay man. One of the most traumatic scenes in the book occurs when a gang of despicable hateful men from his own side attempt to rape him.
Louise is a graduate of Shimer College in Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago (MBA), and University of Toronto (PhD). She retired in 2015.
Louise lives with her husband, Bert Christensen, in Toronto. They have two cats and a pug. Son Erik and his life partner Stephanie have made her a proud grandmother!
The Historical Novel Society reviewed this book on November 1, 2017:
General J.E.B. (Jeb) Stuart cut a dashing figure in the Confederate army with his scarlet-lined cape, plumed hat, white gauntlets, and gleaming boots. A fearless cavalry officer and brilliant military tactician, he was admired on both sides of the Civil War. Word of his death at Gettysburg had Robert E. Lee prostrate with grief.
At fifteen, after surviving childhood abuse, handsome Private Liam Ashley finds in his appointment as Stuart’s camp aide both salvation and exquisite pain. Seized by intense, hopeless love for his general, he endures agonizing fear for Stuart’s safety, the humiliation of Stuart’s flirtations with Southern belles and teasing pique of Liam’s desperate adoration. Constantly courting his general’s anger, Liam is both terrified and excited by his punishments.
Set in the months before the Battle of Gettysburg, A Love of War lacks the drive of a character-driven plot, and the conclusion feels a bit implausible. But readers will find an ingenious, fictional take on the iconic figure of General Jeb Stuart which contributes to the growing body of gay-themed historical fiction, and a unique view of life behind the front lines of the Civil War.
Read more about A Love of War at mlripley.com, and at mlrpress.com.