Alfred A. Knopf
I plucked this one from a box of ARCs offered to me by a local bookseller because the cover looked enchanting and a little scary. I'm not one for scary really but this looked like the good kind. Seventeen-year old Violet Dancey has been left behind, first by her twin brother Rush and then later, by her father. Rush died in battle and Violet is still in mourning. The whole town is wearing black for someone lost in the war.
Before Violet's father leaves he marries a local widow with a teenage daughter so Violet will not be left alone. Soon after two cousins come to visit and she has plenty to keep her busy on the farm. One afternoon she takes her young cousin Seeley off to a deserted cabin where she played as a child with Laney and Rush and she and Seeley discover a nearly dead Union soldier tucked into a back room. Thomas has been rescued and kept alive as someone is tending to his wounds but he's been left in this cabin for weeks. The mystery behind Thomas and the VanZelts and Dorian (the older cousin) and Sunny (Violet's new stepsister) make this book filled with adventure.
The first chapters started a little slow yet we discover a lot between the relationship of Violet and Laney. Raised on the farm with just one slave, Laney's mother, Violet has a very different view of slavery. Laney and Violet are best friends and constant companions even as Laney is now the cook and her husband tends to the fields. Violet's relaxed idea of what a housemaid should do gets her into trouble with Sunny who adores the idea of having one's own slave. This book is a new glimpse into the Civil War and its many tragedies.
I put Nickerson's other book Strands of Bronze and Gold on my to-read list. Nickerson, once a children's librarian in Mississippi, now resides in Canada.