Holy Moly, Bookworms!
My friend Lauren from Filing Jointly demanded that I read North and South by John Jakes. She was all, “Katie, it’s like if The Pillars of the Earth was set during the Civil War.” And I was all, “Ooooooh, that sounds wonderful.” Technically, I finished this after midnight on New Year’s Eve, so I’m going to say it counts as my first official read of 2014.
This bad boy was chunkster-iffic. Weighing in at 812 pages, I was shocked to get through it in less than a week. Family scandal and treachery will do that to you… As well as vacation days. (I love you, vacation days!) North and South begins a trilogy of books that tell the epic tale of the Mains and the Hazards.
Orry Main and George Hazard meet as cadets at West Point in the 1840s. Though Orry hails from a slave-owning plantation in South Carolina and George’s family owns an iron company in Pennsylvania, the two strike a fast friendship. Their friendship isn’t without struggle though. Even prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War, tensions ran high between the North and the South. There was fiery rhetoric on both sides of the Mason/Dixon, and it was kind of scandalous for a Yankee and a Southron to be hanging out.
Orry and George graduate from West Point and go on fight in the Mexican-American war together. After their service they each return home to their respective families and continue their lives. As the years progress, the friendship endures, but political tensions rise. Plus, they’ve got these big crazy families and businesses to run. It’s all so intense and passionate!
I have a tiny complaint though. Elkanah Bent is our resident villain. He is super evil and has been deviling the Main and Hazard clans since Orry and George’s days at West Point. I don’t object to a villain, I mean, villains are necessary and interesting and wicked. What I found unnecessary was that Bent was the only overweight character in the entire book. If you’re read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m super sensitive to authors writing unsympathetic descriptions of obese people, and Bent’s obesity was used as another aspect of his evilness. That I could have lived without.
What I can’t live without? The rest of the doggone trilogy. Holy cats, you guys, I’m enthralled. Heck, I’ve had spirited conversations about Ashton Main (Orry’s sister) and the pantalettes she refuses to keep in place (if I were ever going to slut-shame a fictional character, it’d be Ashton Main)! Epic historical family sagas are where it’s at!
Is anybody else out there a sucker for a saga? Tell me your favorites!
*If you decide to purchase North and South through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*