Friday, January 15, 2010

The Confederate General Rides North by Amanda Gable

Confederate General Rides North by Amanda Gable book coverThe Confederate General Rides North
by Amanda Gable
Scribner, August 2009
276 pages
Personal Copy

Summary in a Sentence:

 Eleven-year-old Katherine McConnell, who is fascinated by stories of the Civil War generals, jumps at the chance to take a trip with her mother and drive north of their Georgia home in search of antiques, battlefields, and historic sites, but each stop causes Kat to question her understanding of war and her faith in her mother.

My Thoughts:

I had never heard of this book before attending the Southern Festival of Books in nearby Nashville last October. I love my yearly trek to Tennessee's capital to discover new authors each year, and Amanda Gable is quite a discovery, indeed. I found it very easy to relate with protagonist Katherine McConnell since I also grew up in the South as a fairly dorky, history buff kinda kid who had some conflicting emotions about the South's checkered past in the areas of slavery and civil rights. This book tackles these subjects and more with aplomb.

As Katherine and her mother travel further North and Katherine begins to sense that something is not quite right, Katherine uses her love of Civil War history to cope with her personal difficulties and misgivings. The author conveys this in italicized sections where Katherine pretends to be a general fighting her own war, which is what Katherine is essentially doing. Katherine is fighting a personal war over her ideas about what it means to be a Southerner, but she is also fighting a familial war with her mother who has been overtaken with her mental illness. Also going on in the novel, which is set in 1968, are the political and cultural events surrounding civil rights that seemed to reach a fever pitch that year.

I am a man black and white photograph

One aspect of the novel I particularly loved was Katherine's love of books, especially the biographies of famous people in American history. There is one particular set that I read as a child; my favorite was the biography of Florence Nightingale.

For fans of Southern fiction, as well as those interested in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the effects of mental illness on families.

~ This book counts towards the Random Reading Challenge ~

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Nina said...

Sounds very good! i may try this one, as i love history. :)

L said...

I've always like books set in the 60's, and the South. Mudbound is another good one.
Great review!

Book Dragon said...

I've added it to my wish list.

Eva said...

I am a definite fan of Southern fiction! Is this Gable's debut?

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Yes, this is her debut novel.

Julie said...

This books sounds really intersting! Thanks for the review!

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

Is there any factual parts to the book? It looks interesting.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

The characters are fictional of course, but the historical events described referring to both Civil War battles and the civil rights issues are true to life. The author includes an author's note as well as a bibliography at the end of the book.

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