Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia

By Jessica James

In a nation where Northerners and Southerners alike still occasionally need to be reminded “Do not re-fight the war,” it is apparent that echoes of a war fought nearly 150 years ago still linger. It is rare, then, to look upon the war and see beyond the issues to the people, the flesh and blood, whose lives and loyalties were tested in a bitter and deadly upheaval of American history. Yet author Jessica James, in her novel Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia or Tale of the War for Southern Independence in the Old Dominion, has developed a portal, if you will, that enables her readers to peer into history and do just that.

Virginia in 1862 sees a well known Confederate officer, Captain Alexander Hunter, along with his small yet loyal group of soldiers, strike fear and awe into the minds of the Union army. Virginia also hears echoes of rumors of an unknown yet crucial Union spy named Andrea Evans, who serves as a continuous source of frustration and irritation for the Confederacy and for Captain Hunter in particular. The war soon deals the two sworn enemies an interesting hand that will change the course of their lives forever.

Bound by a deathbed promise to a mutual loved one, Alex and Andrea soon find themselves in uncomfortable territory. Equally strong in their convictions and loyalties, each are determined to defend their country and home. These two seemingly opposite individuals, forced to keep uncomfortable company, must somehow find a way to reconcile or, at the least, come to an understanding of terms if either are to survive the war with lives and hearts intact. As their unwelcome truce lingers, both Alex and Andrea must look beyond the uniform, beyond the issues, and beyond the flags. They begin looking to the shades of gray where the stark humanity, the pride of home, the love and laughter that reside in each lie.

Readers will be drawn to Andrea’s passion and Alex’s fierce (though sometimes quiet) devotion to the land that he loves. The anger and fear depicted in Shades of Gray is at times almost palatable, the intense sorrow, frustration, and ultimately love seem to transcend the pages to settle in the very marrow of the reader’s bones.

Jessica James has produced a tremendous and wonderful saga about love, loyalty and honor for which she must be lauded.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

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