Tuesday, November 26, 2013

First Chapter Review: War Torn: A Novel by Hadley R. Mann

War Torn is historical fiction set during the Civil War. I purchased a Kindle version of this book in August of last year for 99 cents. The book is currently selling for $3.99.

BLURB: No battles of the Civil War waged so bloody, and so personal, than at the tenuous border states. War Torn is one woman's story of loss, painful secrets, survival, and most of all, finding love again.

Daniella had always lived a quiet life of privilege in Baltimore, but when she is thirty years old, the Kansas-Nebraska Act changes her fate. Danny and her father soon join thousands of other passionate abolitionists who decide to leave their homes and move out West to be part of a crucial vote that will decide whether Kansas will be a slave territory.

Soon this bold, warm-hearted woman marries William Gary, a bright doctor from Independence, and they start a family, but as brutal conflicts carry on at the border, the marriage eventually begins to disintegrate and William begins to stray. With her town soon emptied of men off to war, including William, and devastated by William’s affair, Danny comes to the aid of a friend from the past, Jack, and his young daughter, whose Arapaho mother has died. Caught between the old life she desperately wants back, and a chance at something new with Jack, Danny must look deep inside herself to discover who she is and who she wants to be as a wife, mother and woman.

When William finally returns a war hero, he finds a town plagued by guerrilla violence and civilian attacks. Danny wants to follow General Ewing’s orders and move the children to the safety of town, but to her horror William has other plans. What follows is Danny and Jack’s perilous journey to keep the family together as the country collapses around them, a journey that will eventually take them to the doorstep of the most sophisticated network of escape ever organized, the Underground Railroad.

COVER: It's plain and simple, but it works because it gives the reader a feel of history and the war that tore the country apart. The large, bold font for the title is a great choice because it stands out so well.

FIRST CHAPTER: Daniella and her father planned a move to Kansas, but along the way, tragedy struck. Stopping in Independence, Missouri, to get help for her father, Daniella soon finds herself all alone and far from her life in Baltimore. She soon marries William, a doctor, but when war breaks out between the North and South, he signs up. When William admits his affair to Daniella, she finds herself starting all over again. Fate brings Jack Hart, a friend of William's into Daniella's life as he seeks medical attention for his sick child.

KEEP READING: The premise of this novel has me intrigued. As you all know, I enjoy fiction set during this time period. What I found within the early pages of this book is a woman whose life of privilege turns quickly to one of hardship. Daniella is a sympathetic character: she's lost much, her husband has cheated on her, and though it wasn't part of the original plan, William is re-enlisting. This leaves Daniella at home with their two boys and her step-son, Theo, who has never seemed to accept Daniella as his mother. Yes, she has a good friend in Allie, but overall, she's very much alone to deal with the hand she's been given.

My main challenge with the prologue and first chapter of War Torn is that Daniella's current situation is overshadowed by the tremendous amount of backstory included. The prologue went on for so long I thought I had started the first chapter and didn't notice. Then the first chapter starts with pages and pages of backstory; so if I didn't read the prologue, I would initially be dropped into tons of narrative instead of into the action. Take for instance, when Daniella sees Jack for the first time in awhile. He's pounding on the door of William's office, which has been closed since he enlisted. The book then goes on to describe how William and Jack knew each other, compared their physical characteristics, and how they parted ways before Daniella hops down to see what's wrong. The tension of the moment is broken and needs to be picked up again once Jack states why he's there.

I would very much like to continue this novel, as I feel it will overall be a great read. But I also wonder how many of the 381 pages move the plot forward.

File Size: 907 KB
Print Length: 381 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

I purchased a copy of this book for my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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