The Widow of the South
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The Widow of the South

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  9,545 ratings  ·  1,164 reviews
Carnton Plantation, 1894: Carrie McGavock is an old woman who tends the graves of the almost 1,500 soldiers buried there. As she walks among the dead, an elderly man appears--the same soldier she met that fateful day long ago. Today, he asks if the cemetery has room for one more. Based on an extraordinary true story, this brilliant, meticulously researched novel flashes ba...more
Paperback, 551 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2005)
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I absolutely LOVED this book. I was reading it when I went up to Rabun County once for some respite from my goofy household. A whole week by myself. It was heaven. But the thought of driving 5 hours was overwhelming, so I took the book out on tape and listened to it on tape while driving, then would read on the back porch in the cabin. I kept trying to figure out if I could drive to the Franklin in the book and see the actual setting. (Though this is historical fiction, it's based on the true st...more
Tara Chevrestt
This is a little weird. The beginning is fantastic, opening with the Confederates on their way to Franklin where they meet the Union army and a bloody battle ensues. What I love about this is the alternating narratives. In the beginning, it isn't just Carrie, but also Zachariah's narrative on the Confederate side and a Union soldier gets his two cents in as well. When the battle is over, the book goes downhill for me.

Carrie is more... gothic southern belle than widow of the south. She is obsess...more
This was one of the best books I've read this year. It was a beautifully written book about a woman in the south whose home is commandeered and turned into a hospital. It wakes her up from a deep depression and changes her life. In the end, her acreage becomes the cemetary for the thousands of soldiers killed in Franklin, Tennessee. She cared for their graves and mourned for them the remainder of her life. I loved this book and the value the story placed on the lives of those soldiers who fought...more
May 12, 2008 Jodi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Recommended to Jodi by: my Tennessee friend
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Historical fiction - based on the true story of Carrie McGavock whose plantation home was used as a hospital during the battle of Franklin between the Union and Confederate armies. Interesting, but sometimes a bit obtuse I thought. Wasn't very crazy about the dialog which sometimes seemed confusing, as if the characters themselves didn't quite know what they thought or meant. Did like the character of Mariah, Carrie's slave who had been with her since childhood. Interesting to see their relation...more
I loved this book...I think because I am a Native Southerner and because I work with veterans. A vivid description of how one wealthy family was impacted by the Civil War, and the compassionate and dedicated efforts of Carrie McGavock to nurse over 1,500 dying and wounded soldiers at her antebellum home. Based on a true story, the Carnton plantation was turned into a veteran's cemetery, and is a historical attraction today in Franklin, TN. This book gave me a new depth of compassion for the war...more
The Widow of the South is a novel that sneaks up on the reader. The juxtaposition of narrators is unsettling. Just when the reader feels comfortable with the direction of the novel, the shift in narration forces the reader to pay closer attention and reevaluate the knowledge already gleaned from the other perspectives. However, before one realizes it, the story meshes in a way that melts the heart while causing one to rethink previously told stories about the South during the Civil War. In other...more
I'm not sure what I expected with this novel. It wasn't what I got, that much I know.

I had to listen to the prologue about three times before I got into the swing of the story. Once that was achieved, I had no further problems in that regards.

The book is based on the true story of Carrie McGavock whose home was turned into a hospital during the battle at Franklin, Tennessee in November 1864. After the war was over, Carrie & her husband donated some of their land as a cemetary for the men wh...more
Paisley Smith
DNF The real story about Mrs. McGavock is so much better than this purely fictional account by Robert Hicks. Upon visiting Carnton Plantation, I was enthralled by the history that took place there, and the events thrust upon the McGavock family by circumstances beyond their control. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction and Mr. Hicks, who brashly claims to have coined the phrase 'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story' should have stuck to the truth for his sprawling novel - which by...more
John Yelverton
I really thought that this book was going to be a whole lot better than it was.
One of my favorite books of the year. While this is a novel, it was superbly researched and part of the book is sheer history.
From Publisher's Weekly: Hicks's big historical first novel, based on true events in his hometown, follows the saga of Carrie McGavock, a lonely Confederate wife who finds purpose transforming her Tennessee plantation into a hospital and cemetery during the Civil War. Carrie is mourning the death of several of her children, and, in the absence of her husband, has left the...more
I have to say that I didn't like this book very much. The story was flimsy, the characters were confusing, and in the rush to give some details, others are compeltely left out. This is not to say that I don't enjoy an unfolding story and an air of mystery, but eventually I want the story to unfold. I have to say that I listened to this book, and at the end was an interview by the author. This was the absolute best part of the book. If the author had a forward, discussing the book, the historial...more
I recently visited the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN, which inspired me to read this book. I very much enjoyed The Widow of the South. I was unaware of this battle during the Civil War and this is why historical fiction is my favorite genre. I learn as I read :) If you enjoy reading about the Civil War I recommend this book,
Debra Glass
After Carrie McGavock beat a wounded soldier with a crutch, I couldn't bring myself to finish this book. If you want a good Battle of Franklin read, pick up one of Howard Bahr's books. The Black Flower is his best.
THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH is an excellent, breath-taking and fascinating read. I can’t help but say that this book deeply moved me. The words, Carnton, Franklin, Tennessee, will never have the same meaning to me now that I’ve read this amazing novel.
In his debut novel, Robert Hicks does a masterful job in telling us a true story of historical significance, written with the style of a seasoned author. After reading My Name is Mary Sutter I’ve become very interesting in reading novels about the Amer...more
Yvette Ward-Horner
I don't normally read historical fiction, but I found this book's concept intriguing (woman obsessed with tending the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers). When I found out it was based on a true story, I had to read it.

I found it difficult to get into at first and it took me a long time to warm up to the main character, Carrie. She was so extremely neurotic and gloomy at first that I couldn't stand her. Eventually she finds her footing and her strength is gradually revealed. By the end of the b...more
Widow of the south takes place in Franklin, Tennessee during the end of the civil war, and is based on the life of Carrie McGovak. The book tells the story of an important, but almost forgotten piece of US history. Since there were a lot of gaps in the protagonist's known life, the author has given her a number of attributes (in order to add drama) that may or may not be true (and may or may not be really believable and may or may not cause McGovak to roll over in her grave). McGovak's home is m...more
I am in awe of what this woman, Carrie McGavock, the woman called the Widow of the South, did for nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers killed in the Battle of Franklin. She nursed a lot of them while they were dying, and saw them reburied on her own land when the field they were buried in was to be plowed. She named and kept records for every one and wrote to families about their lost loved ones. The cemetery that she made for them still exists and is kept up by The United Daughters of the Confeder...more
Laura Mason
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephen Gallup
The goodreads review by Valerie Ryan strikes me as being unduly harsh, because this novel has a lot going for it.

It certainly starts out well, with separate short chapters introducing the various characters who are soon to meet on or near the field of combat, and especially with the Confederate general's appearance at Carrie McGavock's house. Having lost three of her five children, Carrie has done her best to retire from the pain of living, but there is no denying this general. His plan is to co...more
Suzanne Moore
I lived for several years in middle Tennessee and actually visited Stone River Battlefield for a candlelight cemetery tour ... listening to readings of actual letters written by soldiers buried there. I even lived in Franklin, TN and drove past the Carnton Plantation on a regular basis, never knowing the story of Carrie McGavock until reading this book. Carrie was a true heroine of the Civil War and her story should heard so that everyone can recognize the bravery and strength she had. Carrie's...more
Etta Mcquade
Having been to Franklin, Tennessee, and seeing the 1,500 small limestone markers of Confederate dead and hearing Carrie McGavock's story made me want to know about her. When 9,200 Confederate soldiers, including six generals, are killed in the worst battle of the Civil War, her plantation became the field hospital for the dead and dying, and she tended them day and night. It was also because of her that the plantation became the burial ground for the soldiers. Robert Hicks chronicles this savage...more
Claire Monahan
The last 40 pages of the book saved it from being a 2-star for me, and aside from the plot wrap-up, those pages consisted of an epilogue and author's note. Still, something that Hicks had to say about war, loss, and patriotism stuck with me, and I was moved by how he crafted these messages into a novel of powerful insight.

I haven't ever before read anything that so dramatizes the cruelties of the Civil War as this book does, and the one thing I'm left feeling now is grateful. I'm grateful to ha...more
This is a novel based on a fascinating piece of American Civil War history. Carrie McGavock's role as a nurse in her own home hospital, and in honoring and preserving the bodies of Civil War dead in a cemetery at her home is an incredible tale and deserves to be remembered and retold.

Unfortunately, I spent this entire novel wishing I was reading an actual history book about it, and wondering if the events of the book would have Mrs. McGavock rolling over in her grave.

There's not a lot of documen...more
Widow of the South is the fictionalized story of Carrie McGavock, who cared for, housed, and eventually buried nearly all the 1500 lost souls who fought (near her home) for the South during the Civil War. Carnton, the large mansion owned by Carrie and her husband, became a makeshift hospital for the men torn apart, both emotionally and physically, during one of the deadliest historical battles, The Battle of Franklin (Tennessee) on November 30, 1864.

This story attempts to interweave historical b...more
Jun 05, 2010 Chad rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everybody, especially those that like historical fiction
I rarely give books a full five rating, but this book was amazing. I enjoy historical fiction and this one did not disappoint. Robert Hicks did a wonderful job in describing the environment. I could smell the gunpower, I could hear the wood floor boards creak as soldiers walked across them in Mrs. McGavock's home, I could see the horrors of war. The Providence Journal stated, "Perhaps the best Civil War novel since Cold Mountain." PERHAPS? This book was better than Cold Mountain. If you enjoyed...more
Amy Bailey
This book was enjoyable, but I wasn't over the moon about it. I'm all for poetic license in works, but I do find I'm more critical when an author takes a historical figure and, because little is known about that character, they create details (especially romances) that tend to possibly lead readers astray. I do realize this story would not have been complete without Mr. Cashwell, but it's an awfully big leap that Carrie would have fallen desperately in love with one of the wounded men she housed...more
This was a strange book for me. I always enjoy reading about the Civil War and I heard a lot of great things about this particular novel. I just could not get into the storyline of this book and the direction the author took it. I thought the idea was fantastic. The battle in Franklin, Tennesee and the woman who was pulled out of a depression, that was brought on by the death of her children, so she could help these men who were brutally wounded in the fight. Her house was turned into a hospital...more
I love historical fiction. To take a real event, and "fill in the gaps" to make a story come alive is pure talent in my book. Widow of the South tells the mostly true story of Carrie McGavok, a Tennessee housewife whose home is turned into a field hospital after a battle is waged in her town. She is a slightly morbid person from the loss of two children, but seems to find her place in life taking care of the injured soldiers. When the war was over she and her husband retrieved the fallen solider...more
On Nov. 30, 1864, Carrie McGavock was in seclusion at her plantation, Carnton, in Franklin, TN. mourning the deaths of 3 of her 5 children, as she had been for years, when the Civil War arrived in Franklin. Her plantation house was taken over for a hospital and her life changed forever as she nursed the wounded, and then created a cemetery for the dead on her land after the town experienced the bloodiest 5 hours of the Civil War.
I had a hard time getting into this book, the author took too long...more
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Around the World ...: Discussion for The Widow of the South 12 92 Jan 31, 2013 04:43PM  
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  • Mary Chesnut's Civil War
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  • All Things New
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  • Jarrettsville
Robert Hicks has been active in the music industry in Nashville for twenty years as both a music publisher and artist manager. The driving force behind the perservation and restoration of the historic Carnton plantation in Tennessee, he stumbled upon the extraordinary role that Carrie McGavock played during and after the Battle of Franklin. He is the author of The Widow of the South and A Separat...more
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“Until I get the keys to the Kingdom, Lord, I ain't giving up.” 1 likes
“I wanted to leave the whole war behind me, and yet I was seeing something on that battlefield that demanded commemoration. It was unholy ground, but I wanted to thank God for showing it to me. I would never again look at a man without wondering what crimes he was capable of committing. That seemed important to know.” 1 likes
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