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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.
The novel Painted Trillium is the story of a family living in Murfreesboro, TN during the Federal occupation of the Civil War. During this novel, Carrie Blaylock is trying to determine the course her life will take following the war. She has never wanted to be a wife, since she feels that she is too well educated and too intelligent to be in submission to a man. However that changes when Captain John Lockridge is sent to investigate the theft of three pigs owned by her family.
This book started out slow for me. A lot of time was spent on descriptions and less time with dialogue. About the middle of the book, it speeded up though. I was really surprised by the ending and how it Just left the reader hanging. There were some parts that provided good historical facts and I think a true picture of what life would have been like in that time period. However this book was only pretty good for me.
I found Carrie’s personal perspective of the Civil War fascinating; her family moved to Nashville from Philadelphia before the war; keeping a neutral position was not possible and to do so, dangerous. The encampment of both Union and Confederate troops in the area and the constant foraging for food and supplies to support the armies left little for families who lived there. Should they acquire supplies by crossing lines they ran the chance of being called traitors and using the supplies to support the opposition. Changes to social mores occurred as women took the place of their husbands, cared for their farms and struggled to feed their children. Women were subject to gossip and discussion by the townspeople for the smallest of infractions, making it even more difficult to stay alive with any sort of normality.
The author goes into detail on the various Civil War campaigns in Tennessee and there’s good insight on the occupations by both Confederate and Union troops. He effectively brings home the tearing apart of families, the loneliness of those left behind and even the uncertainty of soldiers who were civilians before the war. Mr. Brandt combines historical realism and romance in this very worthwhile read and I thoroughly enjoyed his writing style.
I was given a free copy in exchange for an objective review.
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