I picked this book up because it won the Pulitzer, but I had serious misgivings. Generally I hate books about the Civil War, with the exceptions of Gone With the Wind and Cold Mountain (this distaste is directly proportional to the affection that many wealthy, degenerate Texans feel towards Confederate dress, traditions, flags, etc); I don’t like historical fiction in general, I didn’t like that it was a gimmick (telling the other side of Little Women, as in Mr. March Goes To War) and I’ve never read anything else by Geraldine Brooks. Then I opened it up, read the first paragraph and said “HELL NO.”
This is what I write to her: The clouds tonight embossed the sky. A dipping sun gilded and brazed each raveling edge as if the firmament were threaded through with precious filaments. I pause there to mop my aching eye, which will not stop tearing. The line I have set down is, perhaps, on the florid side of fine, but no matter: she is a gentle critic. My hand, which I note is flecked with traces of dried phlegm, has the tremor of exhaustion. Forgive my unlovely script, for an army on the march (NICE ONE GERALDINE BROOKS) provides no tranquil place for reflection and correspondence.
So yeah, that is ridiculous. Did people ever really think like that? So formal and flowery. But I powered through and very quickly got used to it, and it’s kind of nice how opposite it is to fiction that comes out these days littered with brand names and technology. So check this book out, because it’s GOOD! Of course it’s good, it won the Pulitzer. But if I could like it, and it’s so not my thing, if it is anything close to your thing you will like it.