Wednesday 13 September 2017

Whirligig by Richard Buxton

AmazonUK £3.99 £10.99
AmazonUS $5.14 $14.99
AmazonCA $19.30

This title is shortlisted for the September Book of the Month

Fictional Saga / Romance / Military
England / USA

#Book 1: Shire’s Union Series

“Shire leaves his home and his life in Victorian England for the sake of a childhood promise, a promise that pulls him into the bleeding heart of the American Civil War. Lost in the bloody battlefields of the West, he discovers a second home for his loyalty.

Clara believes she has escaped from a predictable future of obligation and privilege, but her new life in the Appalachian Hills of Tennessee is decaying around her. In the mansion of Comrie, long hidden secrets are being slowly exhumed by a war that creeps ever closer.”

This sweeping saga set during the American Civil War, is set in the Gone With the Wind era, but with more depth, more detail of the War itself and the soldiers who fought and died in it. It is a novel about the politics that caused the war, the battle for Tennessee, America fighting brother against brother, north against south, slavery and freedom. But it is also about selfishness, betrayal, hatred and love. Add to all that, it is a very good debut novel!

Shire is a village schoolmaster who has a secret and a promise he has made to Clara, a duke’s daughter. They are both proud, stubborn and brave people, and both are determined to follow what they believe in. When Clara finds herself trapped into a marriage with a plantation owner she has to face the reality of civil war and a husband who has no qualms about keeping slaves. Shire, meanwhile, is to face the reality of what is to become a bloody and bitter war with American fighting American, while all the while, determined to honour his childhood promise to Clara.

The author very obviously knows his subject well: the history blends seamlessly with the fiction and the detail is superb but never overpowering. Some authors try to show how much they know of a period by including too much unnecessary detail – there is not a single unnecessary sentence in this engrossing novel. 

I have only one niggle. The American spelling of English words. Fair enough, the novel is mostly set in the US about US matters, but English English tends to use an 'e' and "u" in words, whereas American English doesn't. I therefore feel that Ridgmont, in Bedfordshire should have been spelt either Ridgemont or Ridgemount. A small niggle, but a very niggling one from a Brit reader's point of view. Some of the scenes set in England also felt somewhat 'American' rather than 'English'.

That said (and I admit a very picky 'that said!') for an insight into what this tragic war and period was really like (without the tedium of the feel of a history lecture) read this novel.

© Helen Hollick

Note from the author: "Ridgmont is based on the Duke of Bedford's Estate at Woburn where my father worked as boy with the horses as Shire did. I wanted to make the place fictitious to have a free hand and so got up a map of Bedfordshire and picked a local village called Ridgmont which is in fact spelled that way. However, for the entire time I was writing the book, and even today, I always put an 'e' in there. I cant help it."
So -  fair enough re my comment above about spelling - I stand corrected! US v UK spelling is always an author's dilemma of course. Perhaps we'll do a Reader's Voice Topic on the subject HH.

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds great, Richard. Congratulations on being shortlisted for Book of the Month.


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