Title: The Abolitionist’s Daughter (Sons of the Shenandoah)
Author: Kathleen Maher
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: August 1, 2018
About the Book:
The crusading daughter of a Washington politician, Marietta Hamilton comes between twin brothers as the country plunges toward Civil War. Horse traders from Virginia, Ethan Sharpe and his brother Devon would defend their livelihood from her interfering kind. When love ignites, friends become enemies separated over the course of a long and brutal conflict. Can the very influences which carved a chasm unite a torn family against all odds?
Told from the perspective of Mariette Hamilton and twins Ethan and Devon Sharpe, this is a story that shares the heartbreak of the Civil War and how it divided communities and families. Ethan and Evan may be identical twins, but they find themselves fighting for opposite sides of the war. While Mari’s parents are kind and supportive of Ethan on his own, they don’t approve of a union between the two. With conflict and heartache all around them, can they overcome their circumstances?
Mari and the twins met after a trip to the slave auction. Mari and her family were hoping to buy a woman and her son so that they could free them, but the twins ended up with the woman’s son. While at Mari’s house, Ethan puts his faith in Christ, and it changes his mindset toward slavery. It also sparks a lasting friendship between the two. After Ethan and Devon get into a major fight, Ethan flees to Mari’s house for refuge. When he and Mari’s brother Ethan sign up to join the war, the advice that Mari’s father gives really stuck with me. He said “If you must go, then go with the proper motives. First, put aside all notions of vengeance.” He also said “Repentance cannot come by force. It is a decision of one’s free will. God neither subjugates, nor does He ask us to do so in His name.” War is messy, and the men on both sides were fighting for what they believed in. While it was a physical battle they were fighting in, the spiritual one was more important.
While the story is called The Abolitionist’s Daughter, I felt it was more about the brothers and their fight from both sides. Out of the three, Mari knew where she stood through most of the story. Ethan’s mindset changed earlier in the story, but he wrestles over the hope that his brother would change his mindset and turn to Christ. He also struggles with guilt over the fight the two had. Devon is angry with his brother and doesn’t understand his change of heart. You can see that he’s searching but he doesn’t know what it is he’s searching for. His internal struggle is very evident.
What I loved most about this story was the deep-rooted emotions that were shared in each of the characters. In today’s world I think it’s difficult for us to imagine fighting in a war where the opposition is your brother, friend, neighbor, etc. During the Civil War it was a harsh reality. I believe Kathleen did an amazing job of showing this. One line sharing Devon’s thoughts, said “how could his brother, his own twin, have turned on him? And over a slave?” Slavery hasn’t been legal in the United States for many years now, but during and before the Civil War, it was a way of life for many. Many didn’t like it, but considered it a necessary evil. To those who didn’t see a need for change, it makes sense that they would be upset over the change in relationship with someone over the issue. On the other side, it makes sense that it was worth it to risk relationships in order to fight for the life and freedom of others.
This was a great story and I would recommend it to fans of historical fiction. By sharing from the viewpoint of three characters, the author was able to give the reader a fuller understanding of the time. It’s important to learn from history so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. There’s a lot we can learn from the past.
*I received a copy of this book from the author. I was not required to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Age Appropriateness/Content Warnings:
*PLEASE NOTE: This section may contain mild spoilers but I do my best to reveal the difficult and/or triggering content without giving away the story
While this is a book during wartime, I would consider the content clean for what it could be. There is violence but nothing overly graphic. There is a pregnancy out of wedlock but no intense love scenes. I could recommend for ages 13 and up.