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The Widow of the South

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  13,448 Ratings  ·  1,493 Reviews
This debut novel is based on the true story of Carrie McGavock. During the Civil War's Battle of Franklin, a five-hour bloodbath with 9,200 casualties, McGavock's home was turned into a field hospital where four generals died. For 40 years she tended the private cemetery on her property where more than 1,000 were laid to rest.
Hardcover, 426 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Warner (first published January 1st 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…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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3.5 stars

The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, 30th November, 1864
The pages of this debut novel are filled with death. Those already dead, the dying and the soon to be dead. The living are preoccupied with death, the dead and loss of loved ones. Nearly 10,000 men lost their lives on this battlefield that day and many were gravely injured.

For the most part the story is told from the various perspectives of Carrie McGavock whose house was commandeered as a hospital, Sergeant Zachariah Cashwell of Ar
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  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 03, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Debra Glass
Jun 19, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paisley Smith
Jan 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
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
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessika by: Jo (Bloomin'Chick)
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
Suzanne Moore
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 was so bored I went upstairs to wake the baby for something to do.
John Yelverton
I really thought that this book was going to be a whole lot better than it was.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Dec 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-the-good
What an addicting read. A little hard to follow at times, but you're really so enthralled the entire time the difficult bits just fly by.

Though the novel bounces back and forth to different perspectives, it's truly Carrie McGavock that carries the novel, just as she carried so much during and after the Battle of Franklin. An amazingly strong woman, I wonder how much was her real character and how much was added upon by Robert Hicks. As for her relationship with Zachariah, it seemed at times unne
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
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
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give a 4.5. Great historical novel of the Civil War and the battle at Franklin, Tennessee. Love, war, and a tad of Creole mysticism. Truly enjoyed.
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5, but I bumped it up to three because was so highly reviewed. I just didn't love the storyline or find any of the characters particularly likable.
Jenny Stevens
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Interesting read. Parts of it were true page-turners and then others lagged a bit (which is one of the reasons it took me so long to read). I'm glad I stuck with it. Learned a lot of history I'd never heard before (it's loosely based on true events and true people). The epilogue was very interesting and nicely tied up some of the loose ends the fiction didn't fully address. I will likely seek out the Carnton estate on one of my trips to Tennessee to see the place in person, if possible.
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simply written and quite interesting but at the same time it felt very personal. Recommend.
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book about the bloodiest battle of the Civil war, in Franklin Tennessee in 1864. Carrie McGavock let her house be used as a hospital for the injured after this battle. She becomes the legendary Widow of the South by protecting the 1500 men who died by burying them in her property. All based on true events.
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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
More about Robert Hicks...
“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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