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Review: A Separate Country

September 24, 2009

A Separate Country

John Bell Hood was a very well known Confederate General.  Having lost a leg and the use of an arm during the Civil War, he decided to settle in New Orleans to start his life over again, since the city was largely untouched by the war.  In New Orleans, he met, fell in love with and married Anna Marie Hennen.  Together they had eleven children.

A series of events involving John and Anna Marie and some of her childhood friends made them re-evaluate their lives and take some chances.  They did something totally unconventional to make a difference in the life of others.

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks is a fictional account of the life of a real Confederate General.  The book is told from three points of view – John Bell Hood’s, Anna Marie Hood’s and Eli Griffin’s.  It opens with Eli Griffin receiving a note written by John Bell Hood on his deathbed, requesting two favors.  It seems John has written two books, and he wants Eli to see that one is published and the other is destroyed.  But, before Eli destroys it, John wants him to take it to one of his former associates, Sebastian Lemerle, to read and decide if John has lived a life of humility.  Eli’s part of the story tells of his search for Sebastian.

The rest of the story is told through John’s book and Anna Maria’s journal and what a fascinating story it is!  It is not a Civil War story, but rather, the story of someone who has lived through the war.  (The story is set after the war.)  It’s the story of two survivors – General John Bell Hood and New Orleans.  It’s the story of what love can do for someone who’s suffered.  I really enjoyed this book and I think there will be a lot of buzz about it, especially among historical fiction fans.  There were a couple passages, attributed to John, that really struck me and made me sit back and think:

“No one thanks the executioner, they wish he would stay out of sight.  The cripples too.”

“I knew nothing about death, only killing.”

There’s an interview with Robert Hicks on Blog Talk Radio, and you can really tell that he has a passion for the subject of this book – you can click here to listen to it.   Here’s a video of Robert Hicks talking about A Separate Country:

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.

32 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2009 7:07 am

    I love just about any story set in New Orleans. It’s like you have ready-made atmosphere, just by mentioning the name. I’ve read another review of this book recently, but I can’t remember where of course. Historical fiction is not my top genre, but I’m quite sure I would enjoy this book!

  2. September 24, 2009 7:32 am

    See…you did enjoy historical fiction! Although it’s not about queens and their affairs!!! I thought this book sounded wonderful on the BTR show and I’m very anxious to read it.

  3. September 24, 2009 7:38 am

    I read The Widow of the South last year, but I think I would like this one even better. It’s got a great cover too!

  4. September 24, 2009 7:49 am

    This sounds great. 11 children?! I can barely handle 1. LOL


  5. September 24, 2009 7:56 am

    I am a bit like Sandy above. I will read anything that is set in New Orleans, because you know it will have a fantastic atmosphere to it.

  6. September 24, 2009 8:11 am

    I don’t usually read historical fiction (although Gone With The Wind is one of my favorite books, so go figure), but this sounds interesting. I wonder if he lived in an antebellum mansion? I toured a few of these & can’t get enough of them!

  7. September 24, 2009 9:25 am

    This does sound like a good one Kathy…thanks for the review!

  8. September 24, 2009 9:54 am

    Great job on this review. I don’t think it would be a book I’d enjoy but I am glad you liked it.

  9. September 24, 2009 10:29 am

    I have to read this. I’m entirely sure I’m going to love it! I’m still in the middle of Shirley (that’s why I haven’t been posting), and I doubt I will ever finish it! It’s rather discouraging. I’ve been reading this book for more than two weeks, and it’s not finished! That’s not the norm for me! Let us hope I can read a few others along the way–and that one of those few will be this one!

    Thanks so much for including that quote. It’s very striking and thought-provoking!

  10. September 24, 2009 10:43 am

    You know, just the other day I was thinking that even though I love historical fiction, I haven’t read all that much of it set in North America. It’s always Europe, Europe, Europe. I’d like to diversify my reading a bit more, and this sounds like a great place to start.

  11. September 24, 2009 10:47 am

    Thanks for such a good review and video. I have a copy of this book too. I’m reading it slowly and savoring it. It’s a very rich read.

  12. September 24, 2009 11:31 am

    I didn’t realize this was set in New Orleans. After reading City of Refuge I think I’ll have to get to this sooner rather than later.

  13. September 24, 2009 11:46 am

    I just saw this in the Shelf Awareness shout out and it looked intriguing.

  14. September 24, 2009 11:48 am

    I hope to finish this over the weekend or at least soon. I love Hick’s writing. If you haven’t read Widow of the South, you should.

  15. September 24, 2009 11:50 am

    This sounds very intriguing. I don’t normally go for historical fiction, but your review has definitely piqued my interest.

  16. September 24, 2009 2:44 pm

    I haven’t read too many books set in the Civil War era, but I seem to be collecting them in my TBR pile. This does sound fascinating. Thanks for the great review, Kathy!

  17. September 24, 2009 3:00 pm

    Great review! I need to put this one on my wishlist. I find myself reading a lot of historical fiction these days. Eleven children! Can you imagine the laundry with all those dresses and layers?

  18. September 24, 2009 3:37 pm

    Wow, sounds like a great read. I don’t read that much historical fiction, but like so many others said, this one sounds like it has atmosphere – and it also sounds highly interesting. I has been written down on my new wishlist, where I also take care to note who actually recommended it, or where I read about it 🙂

  19. September 24, 2009 4:11 pm

    I’m glad you liked this one. I have heard good things about it as well, and think it looks like a really good read. I love historical fiction, so I am pretty sure I will snap this one up. Thanks!

  20. September 24, 2009 7:20 pm

    I have this one in my TBR mountain, I want to get to it soon. The Civil War is a time period that I haven’t covered very much, so it will make for an interesting read. So glad you enjoyed it!

  21. September 24, 2009 9:42 pm

    sounds like some good historical fiction. you might check out dara horn’s “all other nights,” another civil war era novel. 🙂

  22. September 24, 2009 11:49 pm

    Historical fiction is not my cup of tea (or coffee) but that’s still a good story!

  23. September 25, 2009 12:10 am

    I can’t wait to get this one. I think it’ll be one that passes around my family since my dad was a Civil War history teacher for 30 years and both of my parents are huge buffs.

  24. September 25, 2009 12:27 am

    It sounds good! And it’s exactly the kind of book I feel like reading right now. I’ll put it on my list!

  25. September 25, 2009 1:50 am

    This book sounds good, I woudln’t have guessed the plot based on the cover (althought it is very gorgeous). Thanks for the review Kathy.

  26. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 25, 2009 10:22 am

    I do love books set in in New Olreans. I might have to add this one to my list.

  27. September 25, 2009 3:39 pm

    I might be reading this someday. It sounds great. Very nice review.

  28. September 26, 2009 12:29 pm

    This one looks so good. Great review.

  29. September 26, 2009 1:35 pm

    I have this on my TBR pile. Hopefully I get a chance to read it soon! It does look pretty good. 🙂

  30. justicejenniferreads permalink
    September 26, 2009 6:08 pm

    I really enjoy American history so this book sounds super interesting to me. Adding to my TBR pile.

  31. October 20, 2009 4:39 pm

    I keep noticing this one at the store and looking at it. So glad you liked I’ll add it to my wish list.

  32. Libby permalink
    October 28, 2009 10:45 pm

    I am in the middle of this book, and volley between liking it and loathing it. I find myself becoming annoyed with the wife’s account — it’s difficult for me to suspend my disbelief long enough to think that a mother would actually write such a letter to a daughter — and that she would do so in such a rambling, weirdly poetic, and often hard to follow manner. I find myself thinking, “Enough already!” as she meanders on and on, and I forget what the heck she’s talking about. I have an affinity for historical novels, but this one is dragging on so that it’s hard to keep focused.

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