Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Girls of Gettysburg (book review)

Two Girls of Gettysburg, by Lisa Klein, is the story of two best friends and cousins who are ripped apart by the Civil War. Lizzie Allbaur is a plain girl growing up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She is extremely envious of her cousin, Rosanna, a Southern beauty sent to Gettysburg to live with her sister. When Virginia secedes, Rosanna resolves to stay. She has left the South behind, and has come to love the little town, Gettysburg. But when the young man she thinks she loves is killed in the conflict, Rosanna must return home...to a world she would have liked to forget. Her past is filled with treachery and forbidden love, and she feels as if she has to tell someone about it.

So, through letters, Rosanna directs Lizzie to her hidden scrapbook, where she has hidden a horrible secret. Lizzie, shocked and horrified by what her cousin has done, urges her to forget the past and return to Gettysburg. But Rosanna refuses.

Meanwhile, the situation in Gettysburg gets worse and worse. Lizzie must drop out of school to help her mother manage their butcher's shop. Every day she worries more about her father and twin brother, off fighting for the Union cause.

In Richmond, Rosanna marries an old crush. When he joins the Confederate Army, Rosanna follows as a field nurse. When her husband is killed by a fever, she stays with the army anyway, trying to do her best to prevent as many unnecessary deaths as she can.

Soon, the Civil War will bring Lizzie and Rosanna together again when the conflict reaches its turning point as the two armies converge in Gettysburg. But it will take courage and strength from both of them to make it through the battle alive...will they ever see each other again?

This was a great historical novel! Rosanna and Lizzie seem very real, and they have feelings that readers can relate to. In the author's note, she explains how she based her characters on real people who were at the battle, which I thought was very interesting. I am on the lookout for Klein's first novel, a retelling of Shakespeare's play, Ophelia!