Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Smoking Springs by Robert C. Mowry

By Carrie Anne

"Ain't gonna die,"  Judah Ward repeats over and over. The surgeons want to amputate his festering,wounded foot.He's been shot in the shoulder by one of his own officers.  Then too, his skull is ravaged by shrapnel.  Frostbite and sheer exhaustion plague even the healthiest of these Confederate soldiers after their invasion of New Mexico Territory has been ingloriously halted at Glorieta Pass and they forge a hasty retreat out of this rugged wilderness.

"Ain't going back to Texas," Judah also often asserts.  "Hate you, Pa-your God, too,"  he bitterly proclaims.  But for the tenacity of his cousin, Sam Houston McCoy; the affection of Ramona, a kind-hearted Mexican girl and her trader uncle; the help of Bones, a semi-free slave; help and protection from some fellow Confederate deserters and a tropp of compassionate Union spies; and especially for the aid and wisdom of an outcast Apache woman he names Red Bear who uses the healing of a steamy, mineral spring and other indigenous remedies, Judah wouldn't survive.

Fleeing his mountain sanctuary, now all alone, his body is on the mend.  But, what about his confused mind and tormented soul?  (from Amazon descriptions)

I have to say, I had a really hard time getting into this book.  One of my favorite books growing up was a story of the Civil War (Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt) and I was hoping for a similar experience.  No. These characters weren't very well developed and I just didn't really care what happened to them.  The first half of the story was mostly told through dialogue I found very hard to follow, and the battlefield scenes didn't get my heart racing.  I forced myself to keep reading.

Ultimately, I'm glad I did.  The second half was much  more entertaining to me, having less to do with the war and more to do with his life away from it. We learn about friendships made and lost, how people survived in those times, and how unsettled a soldier may have felt away from war, wondering what's next.  Though it didn't especially appeal to me, we also follow his search for answers about God.

All in all, if you decide to pick this book up, give it a little time.  It just might be worth it!

Note from Shawn:

I also read this book.  Since I retain little history, I wasn't sure how accurate it was for the time period, which is why Carrie Anne did the main review, since this is her area of expertise.  Wonderful review, Carrie Anne!

From my perspective, having no clue about anything, I rather enjoyed the story.  I really admired the tenacity of most of the characters.  I agree that the characters could have been more developed in the first half,but there was enough for me to want to keep reading.  There were even a few shockers tossed in there for me.

If you're not a 'history person', you still may find some value here,as I did.  If you are a history person, Carrie Anne's review is spot on.

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