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The Widow of the South

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  15,628 ratings  ·  1,694 reviews
Tennessee, 1864. On a late autumn day, near a little town called Franklin, 10,000 men will soon lie dead or dying in a battle that will change many lives for ever. None will be more changed than Carrie McGavock, who finds her home taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a field hospital. Taking charge, she finds the courage to face up to the horrors around her a ...more
Paperback, 436 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by Grand Central Publishing (first published August 30th 2005)
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Laura It is a novel based on a true story about a major Civil War battle that I had known little about. It was one of the battles with the most losses in th…moreIt is a novel based on a true story about a major Civil War battle that I had known little about. It was one of the battles with the most losses in the war. The house is pictured in the book along with photos of the family and the cemetery which can be visited. Carnton, the house has been restored along with the cemetery and other civil war sites in that area.(less)

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Fred Shaw
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is based on the true story of Carrie McGavock who gave of herself for the benefit of others selflessly her entire life. Carrie and her home were unfortunate to end up sitting only a few hundred yards from the Civil War Battle of Franklin Tennessee. The Confederate army used her home as a hospital. Hundreds of soldiers were cared for by the family and the army orderlies and surgeons. Today Carrie’s preserved home is the site of the largest private cemetery in the country where over 140 ...more
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
Feb 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tara by: Summer
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
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-borrowed
I had previously read A Separate Country by Robert Hicks and struggled with it. However, many reviewers of that book mentioned the superb quality of this one. They were right. Our book begins with two women walking through a cemetery and discussing the men buried there. Who are these women? What is so significant about this cemetery? Robert Hicks unveils the story of a Southern woman long forgotten in American history who desired to remember the men that had taken part in a bloody civil war and lost their lives because of it ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
The premise of this book had great potential, as it's based on the true story of Carrie McGavock whose plantation home Carnton was confiscated as a battle hospital during the Civil War's bloodiest conflict the "Battle of Franklin" in 1864. Through the tragedy Carrie, who was already having hardships of her own including the deaths of three children and a marriage slowly eroded by grief finds strength in offering aid to dying soldiers, love by caring for Zachariah Cashwell, who has received a gra ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book has stayed with me for years. Today I am writing reviews for many of the best I've read in the last 15 years and for those I remember to this day. And I am a eclectic reader. For work and for pleasure I read about 15 or 20 books a week.

This is one of my most remembered of the Civil War. So much so that I have highlighted Franklin TN for a visit.

Addition to reaction above! 2016 experienced the three docent lead tours for Carnton Plantation, Carter House +Lotz House. 3 tours over two day
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Tom Mathews
A touching story that addresses the aftermath of the Civil War in terms of the loss of so many young men for reasons that no longer seemed as compelling as they once did. It is told largely from the points of view of Carrie McGavock, the owner of a home that was turned into a hospital during the tragic battle at Franklin, Tennessee, and Zachariah Cashwell, a Confederate sergeant who was taken there after the battle. Most of the characters are very well developed. I was particularly taken by the ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Robert Hicks's gorgeously written story of Carrie McGavock, a real-life woman whose plantation's proximity to the deadliest encounter of the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin, caused her home to be commandeered as a hospital and thrust her into importance as she cared for thousands of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers, we are given a searing look at our savagery against each other and the transformative effects it wreaks on our souls.

Hicks does not take the easy path as a writer; alterna
May 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Debra Glass
Jun 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
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. ...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
Sherry Sharpnack
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For most of my time reading "The Widow of the South," I was annoyed w/ Carrie McGavock' navel-gazing and torpor, although I understand it. She and her husband had lost their first three children during their childhoods. That would leave any woman in a funk. I need to find a book where there AREN'T dead children, b/c I've read a few in a row now where mothers lose children.

On the fateful November, 1864, day when Confederate General Forrest showed up on her doorstep and told her that a battle wou
Paisley Smith
Jan 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
the only thing that garnered the 2nd star for me was the characters mariah and theopolis, the interesting battle scene and some of the historical context. i thought everyone else was too weird, too boring, too blah. i couldn't read any faster. i had 50 pages to go for 2 days. it was like running in quicksand. i found carrie to be so obsessed with herself and her grief and how everyone else around her seemed to owe her something emotionally. the majority of this book was drawn-out, uninteresting ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is Civil War Historical Fiction. I read this while on the beach and I have to admit that this wasn't exactly a beach read. I liked that there were a few different narrators for this. Scott Brick was one of them and it was a little weird for him to add a bit of a southern drawl into his narration.....but he managed to pull it off.

I liked the start of this one more than the rest of the book. The attraction between two of the characters left me with many questions. I was told what happene
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 who lo
Suzanne Moore
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, otsp-suggestions
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
Mar 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
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,
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. It is based on a real life battle - one of the bloodiest in the Civil war. It tells the story of how a real woman, Carrie McGavock's home becomes a hospital for the injured and dying after the battle of Franklin, Tennessee. Her land becomes the cemetery of roughly 1,500 men. The book alternates between various people's voices telling their interwoven stories. ...more
Jul 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
I was so bored I went upstairs to wake the baby for something to do.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Loved the beginning of the book, but then it started to drag.
Nov 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fic
Historical fiction based on the real civil war battle in Franklin, TN. This was a slow moving novel, yet it held my interest enough to keep reading. What added to my enjoyment was the author's note included at the end of the story with actual photographs of the home of Carrie McGavock and the cemetery on her property. The story really came alive for me after having actually visited that same home and cemetery, having seen the actual family portraits hanging on the house walls, and the bedroo
Erik Rostad
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
I've always enjoyed historical fiction as a way to start learning about an area and a time in history. I live near Franklin, TN, where this novel takes place, and I've met the author, Robert Hicks. I loved this book. Hicks uses the Battle of Franklin to tell a very human story of lives crashing into one another - Union/Confederate, master/slave, victor/victim, living/dead. It's a very real story with a lot of shades of gray and with the heroine battling her own demons. This made me want to learn ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jessika by: Bloomin’ChickJo
This book was an absolutely beautiful rendering of the emotional aftermath of one of the most destructive battles of the Civil War.

Any time you combine historical fiction with the Civil War, I HAVE to read it. Now, I haven't read much about the Battle of Franklin, so I can't attest to the historical accuracy here. But I found the depiction of a group of people trying to comprehend & process & deal with such death and destruction to be quite accurate. For the first time (at least on this large o
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
John Yelverton
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
I really thought that this book was going to be a whole lot better than it was.
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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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15 likes · 2 comments
“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.” 4 likes
“Made me wonder whether putting names to time made much of a difference anyway. What did it measure? Not how much life passes. Hell no. Your whole life can pass and be changed in a second or in a century. Don’t matter.” 2 likes
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