I’m sharing a review today of a novel that will certainly be on my end-of-the-year favorites list! With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander is a fascinating look at the near-end of the Civil War. It is rooted in a true-life setting and characters, bringing a real-life romance to life with exquisite detail all in the midst of heartache and challenge.
On the night of November 30, 1864, a brutal battle in Franklin, Tennessee, all but decimates the Confederacy and nearly kills Captain Roland Ward Jones. A decorated Mississippi sharpshooter, Jones has a vision on the battlefield and, despite the severity of his wounds, believes his life will be spared. But a life without his leg, he can’t abide. He compels Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clouston—governess to the McGavock family at the Carnton mansion—to intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate. True to her word, Lizzie speaks on his behalf and saves not only the captain’s leg but also his life.
When a fourteen-year-old soldier dies in Lizzie’s arms that night, the boy’s final words, whispered with urgency, demand that Lizzie deliver them to their intended recipient. But all she has is the boy’s first name. And, as she soon discovers, there’s no record of him ever having enlisted. How can she set out alone across a land so divided by war and hatred to honor her pledge? Even more, does she dare accept Captain Jones’s offer to accompany her? As he coalesces at Carnton, romance has blossomed between him and Lizzie—a woman already betrothed to a man she does not love.
With This Pledge is exemplary historical fiction from the characterization, romance, and to the care of social and political issues of the time. One example is with the presence of abolitionist leanings in the south: this story considers both the north and south’s positions and issues beyond the central one of slavery, clearly showing how it all pointed back to the freedom of human beings. I appreciate the honest insights into the battle of Franklin, with necessary brutal realities that served a purpose, all bringing out the emotions of the characters and connecting with the reader. And the ROMANCE. I loved it. It was natural, emotional, and refreshingly not a will-they-won’t-they scenario (because of the truth of the story behind the book), but oh the journey was full of surprises, twists, and moments where I wondered just how it would wrap up. But wrap up well, it did! And with just the right balance of resolution and open-ended possibility. The epilogue, in particular, was touching and perfect.
I’m looking forward to more in this series by Tamera!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.