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The Widow's War

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  136 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
The "superb" New York Times bestselling author delivers a sweeping epic set during the early days of the Civil War.

In 1853, Carolyn Vinton is left alone and pregnant after her fiancé, abolitionist doctor William Saylor, disappears. After his stepbrother convinces her that William is dead, Carolyn accepts his offer of marriage, not realizing that she is being drawn into a
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Berkley (first published August 29th 2009)
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Oct 06, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it
I had few skills as a child but I could read. Yes, when tested in fourth grade I was doing less than a third grade math, but I was reading at the twelfth grade level. At least she has that, I can imagine my parents and teachers thinking.

At least I had that. I read when I could, constantly. I also was an early morning riser, getting up around six despite everyone else in my family had major night owl issues. I was told I could get out of bed if I was quiet. So I would sit on the couch in the livi
How interesting, I had no idea Kansas territory was such a hotbed over the slavery issue well before the Civil War. Raised in Brazil, Carrie Vinton recovers from a sickness that has swept over Rio de Janeiro and taken both her father and her fiancé, Dr. William Saylor. Finding herself pregnant (but wealthy), she is gulled into trusting William's step-brother and agrees to marry him and return to Washington. She loses the baby on the voyage, but worse is yet to come as she discovers her husband a ...more
I needed a book set in Kansas and I have a love of historical fiction. I ran across this book, which features the fight for Kansas Territory between the abolitionists and the pro-slavers during the mid 19th century, and it seemed like a great fit.

There were parts of this novel that I really liked. Mackey told how both sides flooded Kansas with sympathizers and predictably, violence broke out. She detailed information about John Brown and his sons, how groups of abolitionists stole slaves in Miss
Jan 25, 2013 Jillian rated it it was amazing
Great book! It was really nice to read a historic novel that looks at a time period that isn't talked about as much. The battle over Kansas was really the beginning of the Civil War, and Mary Mackey explores what it took for people to settle there during this time period, they put their faith and their lives on the line to make their life better. Carrie is a strong faith filled woman who follows her heart and soul all the way. Would recommend it for anyone who is a historic fiction reader, and e ...more
Joan Snodgrass Callaway
Jan 05, 2010 Joan Snodgrass Callaway rated it it was amazing
The law regarding estate of deceased husband during this time period. As a woman who was widowed at age 40 with four teen-agers, I immediately put myself into the widows place - what if our home, all of our belongings, insurance benefits, etc. had gone by law to the oldest male relative in my husband's family? What if we had had to go and live how he determined? Our lives would have been very much different. I couldn't help but put myself into her place. I would have fought "a war", too.
Aug 29, 2014 Marilyn rated it liked it
First book from this author. I didn't realize how much Kansas contributed in the start of the Civil War. Overly dramatic at times for me.
Mar 15, 2017 Molly rated it liked it
I liked how the story started on Brazil.Goes on to how the main character was duped. The ending part on Kansas was interesting but got to politcal for my tastes and the story dragged.
Tara Chevrestt
Oct 02, 2009 Tara Chevrestt rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this.. I really like Mark MacKey's writing style. I do think The Notorious Mrs. Winston is a bit better than this one tho. Whereas Mrs. Winston takes place during the Civil War, Widow's War occurs in just before the war in a much divided Kansas. The book starts in Brazil where the heroine, Carrie thinks her lover has died of disease and being left with child and unmarried, she accepts the most appealing option available to her and marries Deacon, her lover's stepbrother and travels bac ...more
Sep 22, 2009 Dorothy rated it it was amazing
I really loved Mary Mackey’s The Widow’s War . It’s a wonderful novel set in Kansas in the violent and dangerous days leading up to the Civil War. Part love story, part adventure, part intriguing exploration of a lesser known piece of Civil War history, it's both beautifully written and an exciting read.

Mary Mackey’s strong, beautifully drawn heroine is Carrie Vinton, an abolitionist tricked into a marriage to a pro-slaver when her fiancé, William Saylor, disappears during a smallpox epidemic in
Aug 06, 2013 Elaine rated it really liked it
Every once in awhile I need a civil war, abolitionism novel fix. The Widow's War is just that. It starts out in 1853 with our heroine, Carolyn Vinton, living in Rio De Janeiro. The book follows her to Washington, DC and then to Lawrence, Kansas. Carolyn is a staunch abolitionist dedicated to the fight against slavery. It describes the many challenges that she faces along the way.

The Widow's War combines our history of the fighting between the pro-slavers and abolitionists in Kansas 1854 with th
Katrina Patton
Apr 22, 2012 Katrina Patton rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying that I have not been known to read a lot of historical fiction. However, the cover of my copy of this book intrigued me. I like stories with strong women and this book certainly fits that.

I had a lot of trouble with the writing style at first. The present tense really threw me off because I'm so used to reading stories written in past tense. After about 50 pages I stopped noticing it so much. The positives about this are that it flowed quickly, the descriptions were just e
Feb 16, 2013 Lesa rated it really liked it
The Widow's War by Mary Mackey. It is about Kansas becoming a free state and the fight it took in 1856. GO FIGURE that the book is centered with real history about John Brown. I knew nothing about him when I went to Harper's Ferry a few years back. A building of his is still there down by the bridge. John Brown is known to have started the Civil War. Then when I randomly took a different route back to our hotel, I went through the town that George Washington gave to his brother. Across the stree ...more
May 14, 2011 Gretchen rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Note to would have been good to check the author before buying this book. I had a book of the same title on the TBR list, so when I saw this on sale at Borders I picked it up. It wasn't what I was expecting, but still a good book.

This novel is set primarily in the US during the late 1850s, as abolitionists and slavers battle over Kansas. It's part of the run-up to the Civil War that I don't know much about, so was interested to learn. Carrie Vinton is the "Widow" and her battle is a pe
Miss Pippi the Librarian
Oct 30, 2015 Miss Pippi the Librarian rated it it was ok
Shelves: infosoup
Before the Civil War, the territory of Kansas was in a turmoil. People were fighting between a claiming the state as pro-slavery or free. It's historical fiction with a lot of history intertwined in the tale. Makey does include a chronology and historical note in the beginning of her novel as well as an author's note at the end.

Makey's writing style was very unique. It was a mix of italicized insights from the characters and present tense. I felt bogged down at times because I am not accustomed
Tina Cunningham
Apr 09, 2015 Tina Cunningham rated it liked it
Although this book is full of implausibilities, it's a quick and engrossing read. There are several editing errors, and I'm skeptical that a young woman in pre-Civil War times would have done the things Carrie Vinson did, but the message "slavery is bad" comes through clearly. She's an Abolitionist, raised in Brazil, trained in botany by her father, a well-known expert in orchids. She loses both her father and lover in a small-pox plague in Brazil, then travels to the USA as the pregnant bride o ...more
Jun 26, 2010 Michelle rated it liked it
I did not enjoy this book as much as I did The Notorious Mrs. Winston by the same author. However, this book is the definition of historical fiction. The book starts in cholera infested Brazil, travels to politically charged Washington D.C., then into the Kansas Territory as pro-slavers and abolitionist duke it out in the decades leading up to the Civil War. While I could not get emotionally connected to the love story between William and Carrie; you are definitely made to feel something--anger, ...more
Aug 11, 2012 Bridgette rated it really liked it
Huh, historical fiction.. who knew I liked it?
The story provides a very personalized account of some of the events preceding the Civil War. I enjoyed that Mackey begins the novel in Rio de Janiero, it was a refreshing change of scenery for a Civil War era novel, and afforded the narrative an opportunity to compare cultures.
Stylistically, Mackey employs a variety of writing strategies, often switching from first to third person, and switching from standard paragraph form to letter format, or occ
Apr 07, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I REALLY enjoyed this book. I don't normally get into Civil War era American history (maybe it's because I made it through the Wisconsin public school system without ever studying the Civil War). But I do enjoy book about strong, independent women, especially in eras where women had very little rights (ie Civil War era America). I found the book to be a page-turner at times, and other times it was slow, albeit enjoyable throughout. I finished the book in only 2 days...I couldn't put it down!
Apr 20, 2010 Erin rated it liked it
Loved the originality of a Civil War era novel starting out in Brazil. A first for me. Will say that the heroine (is it Carrie? I forget) is the toughest gal I've ever met between the covers of a book. Admirable. Hanging scene at the end was the most sadistic I've ever read. How cruel was that?

Other than that, I didn't feel like there was a lot of depth or character development. I wasn't engrossed at any point.
Feb 01, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it
This is a really good story about the years leading up to the Civil War, the setting a state one normally does not associate with that War and the subject of slavery..... with a strong woman as the main character...the story includes many true facts and locations and moves along quite nicely....until the end when unfortunately I feel it becomes a bit unrealistic.
Jul 18, 2015 Linda rated it it was ok
This book was terrible. I couldn't even finish it. When a book has such awful foreshadowing and sentences that say such things as "I should have paid more attention to his eyes" or "I should have realized he was a sugar broker in a coffee country" how can I be expected to take it seriously? So bad!!!
Mar 17, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Quite simply, I loved this book. Easy read, main character I liked, takes place in the mid-1800s. Strong woman. Loved it. Highly recommend it.

Carolyn Vinton heads from Brazil to the US after hard times. She ends up in the Kansas Territory as the territory fights over it will be free or pro-slavery. Don't want to give anything away. Great read.
Aug 06, 2012 Melanie rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance, historical
Not at all what I was expecting, the characters were a little shallow for me, underdeveloped (at least, william and deacon were. And they were sorta main characters). It wasn't without its good points, but overall lacking that final detail which I love in a historical novel.
May 19, 2012 Jennie rated it really liked it
I had started reading this book about a year ago and for some reason it didn't grab me at that time. I restarted it 2 days ago and am almost done. This book is really intriguing. I am hooked! any history buff will love this telling of the fight to bring Kansas into the Union as a free state.
Nov 04, 2016 Kimberly rated it really liked it
This was a historical romance set at during the mid-to late 1850s when Kansas was the center of attention pre-Civil War as to whether or not it would enter the Union as a slave or free state. Good read.
Mar 10, 2013 Angela rated it liked it
031712. This book started out really good I good understand why Carrie would want to kill her husband which you find out in the beginning of the book. The middle of the book a little slow then it gets really good again. This a book worth reading. The facts in the book are true to our history.
Mar 11, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
What an incredible book. I love historical fiction. the characters are well written and likeable. anything to do with the freeing of slaves interests me.
Sandy Carmichael
Apr 16, 2014 Sandy Carmichael rated it liked it
Really liked it. Good story line and gave lots of historical background on Kansas during the time they were fighting to come in as anti-slavery. Strong woman lead character.
This is Great! Quite a page turner so far.
WOW! WOW! Great read!
Apr 12, 2011 Ldlimes rated it liked it
this story had alot of history in it. i am glad i live now and not back in the 1850's.
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"New York Times" bestselling author Mary Mackey's published works include 13 novels, and 7 books of poetry including "Sugar Zone" which won the 2012 PEN Oakland Award for Literary Excellence. They have sold over a million and a half copies and been translated into twelve foreign languages including Japanese, Hebrew, and Finnish.

Mary is related through her father's family to Mark Twain. She graduat
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