Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Fire by Night by Lynn Austin

The drama of the Civil War unfolds through the eyes of two very different Northern girls. Lovely Julia Hoffman has always enjoyed the carefree life of her well-to-do family, but when she fails to attract the attention of Rev. Nathaniel Greene, a fierce abolitionist, she determines to bring meaning to her empty and shallow existence. When she becomes a Union nurse, her eyes are opened to the realities of war and suffering. She also meets Phoebe, who has entered the army under false pretenses--and whose journey to understanding herself, as well as the tumultuous world about her, is revealed with sensitivity and drama.

Lynn Austin is the author of one of my favorite books, A Proper Pursuit, so I am always happy to read more of her work. She does an excellent job writing historical fiction. I loved the enlightenment I gained about the Civil War through reading Fire by Night. Right off, readers join the spectators at the battle of Bull Run. I can't imagine having a desire to witness war like it was a form of entertainment, but it really happened!

The characters were excellent, especially their transformations. Julia and Phoebe had very different journeys, but they both overcame some of their biggest internal battles. I really enjoyed Dr. McGrath's character too. He was very hard to like initially, but his story was also a great one to discover.

This was an excellent book, even though my desire to find out what would become of Julia and Phoebe moved much faster than the pacing of a few parts in the second half.