That’s one of those things Mother used to say, even though she was pretty good at sizing people UP on sight!
I will have to admit, I do.
Judge books by their covers, that is.
I’ve bought several books just because I thought the title would look good on the book shelf. Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady and The Secret Life of Eva Hathaway come to mind. They are both funny, funny books, and always start a conversation when someone sees them.
So, while on my last trip to Border’s, again darn that kindle, I saw a book that had a tacky, tacky cover. I didn’t like to title, I assumed it was a romance novel, and I walked on by. But, as luck would have it, I came back that way and realized that it was written by Robert Hicks. Hicks wrote The Widow of The South, a great read about the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee in the War Between The States, and the woman who buried over a thousand soldiers in her front yard after the battle.
Hicks is a “tad” obsessed with Confederate General John Bell Hood. And he’d have to be to write this well about him. Hood was known as “the butcher of Franklin” and was a rush to judgement kind of guy, so he’d probably be ok with my not picking the book UP the first time around.
Hicks’ new book, A Separate County is surprisingly good. The sophomore work of a writer is generally a big let down, but A Separate County may actually be better than the first book.
It’s sort of a sequel, but you don’t have to read the first one to get the second one. So, I guess it’s really not a sequel, just some of the characters are the same.
A Separate Country is about Hood’s life after “The War”. He moved to New Orleans hoping to blend in, be an unknown, and make a new life for himself. Well, he had to settle for one out of three.
He had a new life. Battered and maimed from “The War”, (he lost the use of his left arm at Gettysburg, and, at the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. ) he marries a young white creole named Anna Marie Hennen and they proceed to go forth and multiply. Eleven kids in ten years, three sets of twins, and I’m guessin’ he was making UP for lost time during the war.
The book is written from three points of view. Eli Griffin, the main narator is given a charge by the dying Hood, and sets off to do for the man what he could never do for himself. The rest of the book is from the writings of Hood and his wife. Hood’s are diaries, Anna Marie’s are letters to her oldest daughter.
There were nights when I could not stop reading, and as the action progressed, I found myself not wanting it to end. The characters are great, seedy, merciless, complicated and conflicted. There’s even a dwarf! And who doesn’t love a dwarf?
So, don’t let the tacky Belva Plain cover fool you, the Miami Herald reviewer said it was “marvelous”, and they were right! It’s on my list of “re-reads”.
You can find out more about Robert Hicks and his work at www.robert-hicks.com