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Painted Trillium: A Novel of the Civil War Paperback – May 28, 2016
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About the Author
Robert Brandt is the author of books and articles about Tennessee history, travel, and outdoors. Among his books are Touring the Middle Tennessee Backroads, Fodor’s Compass American Guide – Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee on Foot. His contributions to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Cultures include entries about the period covered in Painted Trillium. His articles have appeared in the Sierra, Tennessee Historical Quarterly and The Tennessee Conservationist. A native of Norris, Tennessee, he received a BA in history from Centre College and JD from Vanderbilt University where he served as an adjunct faculty member. He is a retired judge and lawyer living in Nashville with his wife, Anne. Painted Trillium is his first work of fiction.
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This historical novel is set in Middle Tennessee during the Civil War, after Nashville had fallen to the Union Army. Before reading this book, I hadn't considered how Middle Tennessee families coped with the daily presence of Union Soldiers - particularly those families whose loved ones died fighting for the Confederacy.
The story is told from the view of a young woman who has lost her brother and her fiance to the Confederate cause. She is intelligent, introspective, and mature for her young age Her idea of becoming a teacher leading her own school is ahead of its time.
The author, Robert Brandt, is a respected historian and conservationist living in Nashville. His references to local history, geography, and nature (always secondary to the engaging plot) are accurate. This attention to historical and local detail brings an authenticity to the story of young people whose lives, both Union and Confederate, are caught up in a war not of their making and how they struggle to find their way.
When the Confederate army retreats from Murfreesboro, TN in January 1863, it leaves the town and its residents vulnerable to the Yankees. Carrie Blaylock has already suffered much loss because of the war, as her brother is now gone along with the young man whom she would have eventually wed. There are many unknowns in her life now, and she worries about what the future will bring since so much has changed in just two years. With her future husband dead, Carrie cannot help but wonder if she could possibly live on her own some day and become a teacher, thus helping young girls get a needed education. But for now, the war rages on and her hometown is in constant turmoil.
A meeting with Union soldier Captain John Lockridge takes place because he wishes to discuss a problem with Carrie. They are cordial to one another, even though he fights for the North. With his army remaining in the area for months, the two start seeing each other occasionally to discuss books and enjoy some friendly conversation. Since he could move to another location without much notice, the two make the most of what time they have together, talking about their families and goals. But what could happen because of the war is never far from either of their minds.
It did not take long for me to feel totally connected to the many likable characters in PAINTED TRILLIUM. I admired Carrie for her determination to be independent, and John’s steadfast honorable behavior had me respecting him. It was definitely easy to love these two wonderful individuals who had such intriguing personalities. There are also numerous other people whose appearances contributed much to the storyline. All throughout the book, I could clearly recognize how loyalty to one side or the other altered how a person saw someone else. It is very difficult to conceive how drastically lives were forever changed during the Civil War, as friends and even relatives might have different views. The way in which the author conveys the feelings of his characters let me better comprehend what ordinary folks went through during this time in history.
The book focuses on how the Civil War influenced Americans from various walks of life, and all details come across as remarkably realistic. There was never a time when I did not think a situation really happened as described, because Robert Brandt’s attention to every aspect of the story is so thoroughly researched. Historical figures and battles that took place are factually portrayed, while correctly used terms of the period add to the realism. PAINTED TRILLIUM touches the heart while engaging the mind. The story will long be remembered.
Received copy from publisher for Always Reviewing blog
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