At the end of the Civil War, a group of young, angry Confederate widows band together, take up arms, and march north to Ohio intent to burn down the home of General William Tecumseh Sherman.
February 15, 2015
This Side of the River is a novel set in in Georgia in the summer of 1865, after Confederacy has collapsed. A contingent of war widows who have survived Sherman's March have armed themselves and rallied around a teenage Texas Ranger named Cat Harvey in order to ride north to Ohio and burn Gen. Sherman's home to ashes. It is a story about trauma, revenge and redemption. What happens when they light out for Ohio is a terrible, doomed odyssey that forces these young women to ask the darker questions of the human condition.
This Side of the River by Jeffrey Stayton was overall an interesting read. I really liked the fact that the widow’s voices were definitely all their own—each one had their own story, their own background, and their own reasons for doing what they were doing when they decided to join the march north to burn Sherman’s home. It was unique how the author brought all of the different voices together, and created a gritty and realistic story of strong southern women during the Civil War joining together for a cause. The leader, Cat, seemed so elusive to me. It seemed that no one could truly get to know him, yet they had chosen to follow him, and he had chosen to lead a bunch of women north, so he definitely was not your typical man.
I liked the story, but it was often difficult to follow, especially at the beginning. I had a little trouble initially getting into the book, because it seemed a little repetitive initially, and somewhat awkward. The descriptions were good, and he writing style was unique, but parts were a little slow. Overall it was an interesting book, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction.
I feel comfortable giving this book a FOUR out of FIVE stars.
Jeffrey Stayton grew up throughout Texas and lived in Mississippi before landing in Tennessee where he’s lived with his wife in Memphis for the past four years. The southern author releases his first literary noir novel in February 2015, the 150th anniversary year of the Civil War’s end. This Side of the River was inspired by his question of what would have happened if the war-widows of Georgia took up arms in the aftermath of the Civil War?
He earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Mississippi and specializes in 20th Century American literature.
He writes poetry, has written book reviews for the Missouri Review and has published stories in StorySouth, Lascaux and Burningword Literary Journal. His original story “Pepper” won the Bondurant Award for Fiction, and his story “Chisanbop” appeared in the Best of Carve Magazine.
He is a scholar and teacher of Modernist, Southern and African-American literature, often teaching women’s literature courses as well. His passion for Latin American literature brought Stayton and his wife on a hike across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago where he brushed up on his Spanish.
When not writing and teaching, he’s in his studio working on oil paintings.
Having at one point performed stand up comedy, Stayton embarks on a unique book tour in Winter 2015 gearing up to be as entertaining as the pages within his literary fiction.
See this Article from Shelf Awareness about Jeffrey’s wonderful contribution to Indie Bookstores during the 2015 Holiday Season: http://shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=2410#m26841