"As the Civil War tears America apart, General Stonewall Jackson leads a troop of Confederate soldiers on a long trek north towards the battle they believe will be a conclusive victory. Through their hopes, fears and losses, Keneally searingly conveys both the drama and mundane hardship of war, and brings to life one of the most emotive episodes in American history."
"Deserves comparison with the great war novels of the last hundred years." - The Observer
"A fine and compelling novel" - Financial Times
"It compels admiration over and over for its energy and its insight into human character" - The Spectator
"An extraordinary historical imagination...a writer of great power" - Malcolm Bradbury
"Such a magnificent book that I count it a privilege to read and keep" - Books and Bookmen
In the second year of the war, Mrs Ephephtha Bumpass saw her husband Usaph unexpectedly one cold March night. This happened way over in the great Valley of Virginia on a night of bitter frost. Usaph had come knocking on the door of the Bumpass family farm near the fine town of Strasburg and, when the door opened, he was the last person she expected to see.
At the time, she was sitting at the kitchen hearth with the old slave Lisa and the fourteen-year-old boy of a neighbour called Travis. Mr Travis had lent her the boy to do chores for her and to keep her company. Ephie Bumpass had been married some sixteen months up to that point and had lived all those sixteen months on this highland farm in the shadow of Massanutten Mountain. But Bumpass had met and wooed her in a very different country from this. She'd been raised down in the Carolinas, in the torpid swamps round the mouth of the Combahee River. Her father had been a drum fisherman there and it was all the world she knew til Usaph brought her up here to Virginia.
From the Sceptre paperback edition, 1999.
This novel was shortlisted for the 1979 Booker Prize.
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Last modified: October 24, 2005.