Book Rating: 5.0
Chenneville is a sweeping psychological suspense novel set in the post-Civil War era. The Confederate army surrendered, Lincoln had been assassinated, and the Union Army disbanded. First lieutenant, John Chenneville was discharged from the Union Army after spending a year in hospital recovering from a near fatal head wound. He returned home to St. Louis to find his sister and her family had been murdered. Racked with grief and anger, John empowers himself to exact justice. He makes a slow and steady journey through freezing cold rain and snowstorms gathering evidence as he searches for James Dodd, the man responsible for their deaths.
Paulette Jiles has painstakingly constructed a methodical character, equipped with keen observance of human nature, and a singular focus to avenge his sister’s death. John’s travels, through war-torn settlements, furnish readers with an insight to the fractured society that existed in the immediate years after the civil war and the detrimental impact on the country, regardless of which side they fought.
Through her sweeping descriptions of topography, living conditions and frame of mind shaped by loss and trauma, Jiles manages to endow readers with a panoramic view of the country post-Civil War. The vivid prose transports readers to a beautiful, rugged landscape and unforgiving world as she offers a paradox to the innocence and beauty of nature with a new and fragile emerging society, tested and shaped by the resilience of its inhabitants. Chenneville is a beautifully written, provoking novel with a compassionate understanding of human fortitude. It was an absolute joy to read.
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