- File Size: 1521 KB
- Print Length: 358 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Ocoee Publishing; 2 edition (June 23, 2020)
- Publication Date: June 23, 2020
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B08BS4RCDH
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,220 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Whirligig – Keeping The Promise: A Heartbreaking Saga in Time of War (Shire's Union Book 1) Kindle Edition
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'There is not a single unnecessary sentence in this engrossing novel' - Helen Hollick, author of the Saxon series
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'I heartily recommend this book to the Civil War enthusiast' - Jeff Houston, 5th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
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While children, Clara and Shire make a promise to each other. In order to fulfill that promise, Shire must contact Clara in Tennessee. Shire travels from England to New York and eventually joins the 125th Regiment of Ohio, hoping to travel with the Union army to Tennessee and keep his promise to Clara.
I am very impressed with Mr. Buxton's writing and his depth of research. He has a certain way of turning a phrase that is sometimes poetic, especially in descriptions of the landscape, weather, and of course, the Civil War battles. I really got a sense of what it may have been like amid all the chaos and noise of a battle.
I am also impressed with his depth of research. I am familiar with Colonel Opdycke from the 125th Ohio, but I was surprised to learn that George Trenholm, the financier from South Carolina, was a real person, not fictional. I am amazed how Mr. Buxton combined fiction with fact so masterfully.
I hope all Civil War fiction fans read this book. It's also a terrific adventure story, and the plot twist at the end thoroughly surprised me. Overall, a very satisfactory read.
In his first novel, Richard Buxton confronts the reader with raw and often uncomfortable scenes of conflict whilst eloquently bombarding the senses with the sights, sounds,and even the gritty taste of battle.
From the story’s meandering beginning, it slowly rises to a nail-biting and unforgettable climax.
There is a young man who basically grew up with Clara, but who was from a lower social rank, Shire, who follows her to America, hoping to improve his chances of winning her heart and hand. (Unbeknownst to Shire, Clara is already married by the time he gets to her.)
In the meantime, Shire has quite a remarkable journey and it's really kind of a miracle that he finally gets to Clara. He winds up enlisting in the Union Army, and endures some terrible battles within miles of Clara's new home.
Clara's husband is a fairly obnoxious piece of work. He marries Clara, not for love, but for business and to improve his chances for a higher commission from the Confederate Army. He respects only himself and expects his social, financial and military rank to afford him privileges not available to anyone he considers beneath him.
Richard Buxton's story set during the US Civil War portrays all the horrors and despair that crop up with brother turns against brother and a country implodes on itself. I wondered how good a historical fiction novel set in one country by a citizen of another country could be and am happy to report a resounding 'pretty dang good'.
There are a number of Civil War historical sites near where I live and the (figurative) ghosts still haunt the land. On more than one occasion, I have heard this conflict referred to as "The War of Northern Aggression".
If the events of and surrounding the US Civil War is one of your interests, you should already have or move to put this book on your stacks.
Top international reviews
However this novel is not only about American slavery. It cleverly depicts the lives of soldiers on both sides of the battle as well as evoking the mood of the civilian population. On top of that Richard Buxton intermingles the intrigue of a potentially illegal marriage, a childhood love affair and the influence of trade and politics on both sides of the Atlantic.
For anyone interested in the history of America at the time of the Civil War, this is a must read.
Richard Buxton clearly knows not just the history but the minutiae of details that go along with this time period – to such a degree that he’s created an authentic depiction of the American Civil War period – one that feels genuinely alive. Yet it’s done with restraint, with enough detail to convince you it’s real but not so much that it feels like a history lesson. For my money, getting taken away by such a story is as close as you’ll get to experiencing the real thing.
Of course it is still fiction though – and the classical tale of a hero’s journey into war to keep an honourable promise equals the standard of the world building. It merges with the history in some very interesting ways - and left me wondering as to where the story stopped and the history started (thankfully, there, the author’s also kindly included some notes about that at the end). Note, there is a slow start - but when soaking up the world’s this enjoyable, that’s a good thing.
It’s a very satisfying read, as it combines action with atmosphere, intricate plotting without ever losing the reader, rich and original description without hindering the pace, and a couple of excellent twists and blind alleys.
Particularly well handled was the alternation from the description of the main protagonist to that of his love interest; moving the reader abruptly from, say, the fear and squalor of hand-to-hand fighting to a cossetted, affluent life, pandered to by slaves.
Many of the key characters are amply fleshed-out, often subtly drip-fed, rather than being concentrated into several paragraphs. Moreover, Buxton gives us many diverse characters showing his breadth of human understanding.
This short extract, I think, well illustrates Buxton’s typical prose: ‘The air was cold and still, and the smoke from the day was free to settle into the forest. With no prospect of a hot meal, Shire dug in his pack for hardtack. The biscuit had little flavour at the best of times, now it had none at all. But he found some unconscious bovine comfort in the simple act of eating.’ What a brilliant last sentence to encompass that scene.
If I search for any criticism, all I can offer are three personal observations: I found the book slightly hard to get into (and wonder if that was because there wasn’t enough description of scene, place or period… ‘a tad rootless?); maybe the pace generally could have been tightened up a touch by the loss of some repetitive description and the odd simile (though most were sublime, and I know most readers like similes more than I) and, for me - the big one – the font on my hardback copy was too small!! Or am I now too old?
If Whirligig was a fine wine, I believe Parker would give it over 90 points. It deserves to be a classic. Hugely recommended.