I just finished Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson. I loved this book! I’m a fan of historical fiction and this is a good one.
The story takes place in Missouri at the beginning of the Civil War. Maggie Malone is an Irish immigrant who lives in Missouri with her brothers who like her are supporters of the Union. They have neighbors who have a plantation and are slave owners. There’s a wonderful contrast in the book between Maggie who’s tough, unfeminine, great at shooting and working on the farm and Libbie who lives on the plantation and is a picture of the feminine Southern Belle (although things are not always as they seem).
The book offers a fascinating look at the horror of being neighbors one week and facing each other in battle the next. It caused me to wonder what I’d do if my neighbor suddenly became my enemy. Throughout the book the author, Stephanie Grace Whitson, shows a masterful contrast between the two women and their situations. Maggie has followed her brothers into battle where she meets the fascinating Sergeant Coulter while Libbie stays on the plantation under the domination of her older brother who’s a slave-owner and decides to turn his property into a Rebel camp. The author paints a picture of each character that helped me understand even those who are minor characters. Between the house slaves who work for Libbie, Maggie’s brothers and other soldiers in the Union army all the characters seem like real people and I found myself caring about what happened to them.
I’d never heard of the Daughters of the Regiment before (women who sometimes traveled with Union soldiers) and it amazes me to think of their bravery. This is truly historical “fiction” as the characters and battles are fictional but it is historically accurate and gives us a picture of how the Civil War impacted the lives of everyday people. I didn’t want the story to end and appreciate so much the afterward provided by the author which gives a look into what happens to each character (loved this).
If you enjoy historical fiction, I know you will enjoy this book. If you don’t usually read historical fiction, you don’t know what you are missing! It has romance, adventure, history, drama (including a look at an abusive relationship), faith and humor. Plus there’s a dog! What more could a reader want?