Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris

I killed a man the summer I turned thirteen . . .

Thus begins C. S. Harris’s haunting, lyrically beautiful tale of coming of age in Civil War-torn Louisiana. Eleven-year-old Amrie St. Pierre is catching tadpoles with her friend Finn O’Reilly when the Federal fleet first steams up the Mississippi River in the spring of 1862. With the surrender of New Orleans, Amrie’s sleepy little village of St. Francisville – strategically located between the last river outposts of Vicksburg and Port Hudson – is now frighteningly vulnerable. As the roar of canons inches ever closer and food, shoes, and life-giving medicines become increasingly scarce, Amrie is forced to grow up fast. But it is her own fateful encounter with a tall, golden-haired Union captain named Gabriel that threatens to destroy everything and everyone she holds most dear.

Told with rare compassion and insight, this is a gripping, heart-wrenching story of loss and survival; of the bonds that form amongst women and children left alone to face the hardships,deprivations, and dangers of war; and of one unforgettable girl’s slow and painful recognition of the good and evil that exists within us all.


Hardcover, 320 pages 
Expected publication: December 1st 2016
 by Severn House Publishers
*****
Good Time Coming is a powerful story of survival, a coming-of-age story that has made me see the Civil War from a different prospective. Where one usually reads from the point of view of either the North or South this book stays away from the political aspects and rather the reader gets a truly authentic look at those left at home. 

Amrie is only 12 years old when this story begins. With wonderful dialogue, vivid descriptions and a touch of humor it wasn't hard getting to know her and to become completely enraptured with her character. She is curious, adventurous and constantly on the move, this war forces her to growup and leave her childhood behind.
"The idea that someone could take all this from me - my sense of identity, my connection to ancestors I'd never known, the image of my dead brother - made me feel anxious and vulnerable in a way I'd never before realized I was.  It also made me quietly, powerfully, and enduringly furious....But such wishings came from the imagination of a child, and my childhood was rapidly slipping away from me."
Amrie is telling the story here and she does it flawlessly. There are many layers to Good Time Coming and she is able to convey how this conflict affects not just her family but the lives of those around her giving the reader a truly realistic and heartbreaking view of this war.

What stands out for me in this book is the authors writing, she was able to connect me with all the characters and situations, to feel empathy for the struggles and what they were forced to endure while the men were of fighting this war. At times some of it was hard to take in it but this was a realistic look at the American Civil War. The descriptions made it easy not just to visualize but feel what was taking place.
"I suppose the point is, life is capricious.  We can never know the outcome of our actions or decisions, and the idea that we can control our lives is more often than not an illusion.  All we can do is what we think is right, and acknowledge that sometimes things will turn out horribly wrong anyway."
While this book had a fitting conclusion I can't help but miss Amrie and would love to see what happens next in her life, one can always hope for a sequel. This is my first time reading anything by CS Harris and she has a new fan, her Sebastian St. Cyr series is already patiently waiting in my tbr pile.

As a big fan of audio books I feel, with the right reader, that this would work perfectly in that format. Thank you to the Severn House Publishers for an advanced copy via Netgalley.

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