Friday, June 01, 2012

Jocelyn Green's Wedded to War ~ Reviewed

By Jocelyn Green
Published by Moody Publishers
ISBN# 978-0802405760
398 Pages

Back Cover:  In Wedded to War, tending the Union army's sick and wounded would mean leaving Phineas Hastings, the man Charlotte Waverly's mother, Caroline, approved of, for an existence Caroline could not understand. To honor the father she lost to Cholera, Charlotte chose a life of service over privilege-just as her childhood friend, Caleb Lansing, had when he became a military doctor. She quickly discovers that she's combatting more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Would the two men who love her stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or would their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

She fought to get her place, and she fought even harder to keep it.
Though Wedded to War is a work of fiction, the story is inspired by one Civil War nurse, Georgeanna Woolsey, whose letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering women nurses endured during the Civil War. This is the first novel in the series, Heroines Behind the lines: Civil War, offering an inside look at women's contributions during times of war.

Jocelyn Green teleports readers to the frontlines of the Civil War, through the eyes of medical personal trying to save lives, in her debut novel, Wedded to War.

I was instantly drawn into this fascinating story and sympathized with Charlotte, the main character and her family situation. Charlotte is a strong-willed, opinionated woman who loves God with her whole heart.  She faces opposition from her family and friends when she shares she’s call to be a nurse. She also gets some flack from medical organizations she wishes to join. No one could understand why a woman of privilege (who’s never worked a day in her life) wants to volunteer to be a nurse and go into the trenches of war. Was she mad? Did she have a death wish? Charlotte explains to a friend, “For the first time in my life, I feel as through I may actually have some value to other people. Not for what I look like but for what I do. I am part of something bigger than myself.”

After a family relative signs up to help fight the war it becomes personal. She can’t stay home; attend parties and social events anymore. The test, could she be strong enough to be true to her call, herself and God?

Remember the scene in Gone with the Wind, when Scarlett O’Hare is overwhelmed by her surroundings as she helps the Doctor with the wounded, and dying? The camera follows Scarlett running outside to escape the sights and sounds of war only to run into more of the same. There is no escaping the soldiers bleeding and dying bodies.

This author not only shows you this type of scene through Charlotte eyes but she goes a step further. She does an incredible job of allowing the reader to experience the nitty-gritty of the Civil War without getting grotesque. The reader experiences the unforgettable sights, sounds, smells and struggles medical professionals went through in order to help soldiers and themselves survive!  Jocelyn is a well crafted writer. She paints scenes in her novel that made me feel as if I were actually there!

Charlotte is confronted in the field by a Doctor, “Sympathy doesn’t save lives. Science does. Efficiency does. If you feel too deeply, it will cloud your judgment, slow you down. I know it’s hard for a woman to understand – that’s why medicine has always been a man’s job!”

She is then accosted by a female administrator of the hospital who tells her, “If you want to be accepted as a nurse, you will do as the Doctor says and not ask questions. Asking questions implies that you do not trust the Doctor’s decisions, his diagnosis, or his treatment. It implies that you could do it better. That he is incompetent. That’s grounds for dismissal…if you don’t drop that strong-minded, women-of-reform attitude, no Doctor, and I mean not one, will want to work with you.”

She had her work cut out for her. No one said it’d be easy. Charlotte didn’t make comments like these or her family’s disapproval get her down. “She knew eventually they’d have to accept women into the ranks, even if it were through doing the dirtiest of jobs: with Gods help she’d make it thru.” It’s funny that nowadays the nursing field is mostly thought to be a woman’s job.

I liked how this author showed the Civil War and the struggles from many different angles. Not only did she highlight Charlotte a woman of privilege, fighting her way into the battle field to become a nurse, but she showed what it was like to be a woman left behind when her husband goes off to fight in the war.

Ruby was the woman left behind to try and figure out how to do life alone. Ruby was honest and strove to do the right thing in Gods eyes. She didn’t know how she was going to make it on the $2.50 per week she made sewing. How would she make it until her husband sent her money? Some women she knew were turning to prostitution to make it through. She was horrified at the idea. She’d think of something else. But the reality was her sewing job took up over 12 hours of her day there wasn’t much time to do a whole lot else. Would God provide a way when there seemed to be no other way?

Of course predicators raise their ugly heads in times like these. Jocelyn shows that side of the war too. She shows how in horrific situations some people take great delight in the fact they have found a way to make themselves rich in the middle of others misfortune.

During the war the innocent and desperate were abused and forced into prostitution (much like human trafficking today). Others made money through scams. Sad all this accrued when the country and its people really needed to work together for the common good!

Wow, what an amazing story based on real women in history. When I finished the last page of this book I was changed, much like how I felt after watching Dances with Wolves and Gone with the Wind. Both movies opened my eyes to things I never thought of before or knew existed and it changed how I viewed periods of American history. If only our history book in school was this exciting and memorable. Grin! This is a great book club pick as there is so much to talk about in it. This book is to be experienced and then shared with friends. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Wedded to War takes place during the Civil War.  Charlotte Waverly comes from a well-to-do family in the North, and is expected to settle down marry like any other woman of her class.  She is pursued by a man named Phineas Hastings, but she can’t quite bring herself to commit to him.  When the war breaks out, there is a call for woman nurses.  Charlotte feels compelled to join the cause, much to the dismay of her mother and to Phineas.  In the process, she comes across Caleb Lansing, a friend from many years ago who helped Charlotte through her father’s death.  They both have feelings for each other but are afraid to voice them.  In the meantime, they are separated by the war.  Charlotte eventually makes her way down South to work on the ships that take care of the wounded.  Throughout the story, she struggles with her identity as well as prejudices from men who felt woman had no business being nurses. 
This was a wonderful book!  And I was surprised to see that it’s the first book that the author has written.  She did a great job.  She based the story on the life of Georgeanna Woolsey, a real Civil War nurse.  The book was exciting and had a lot of twists and turns.  All of the characters were well developed.  I can’t wait to read book two!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers


Jocelyn Green said...

Thanks Nora for such a fantastic review! I'm so glad you enjoyed Wedded to War and I hope all the readers are just as impressed as you were. :) I had a great time writing (and rewriting) this novel!

Nora St. Laurent said...

THANKS Jocelyn for letting me be an early reader. Your book gave me a peek into the Civil War that I'd never really thought about.

I can't wait to read the read of the series!

Praying the Lord continues to give your his inspiration!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network