Release date: 10/01/2003
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With tremendous narrative pace, a meticulous eye for colorful detail and a tight grasp of historical setting and military action, poet and novelist Morgan (Gap Creek) delivers a rousing and affecting tale of the American Revolution. This gripping story of love and desperation is set in the brutal rebel-versus-loyalist bloodbath of 1780–1781 in North and South Carolina. Sixteen-year-old Josie Summers, a barefoot mountain girl, runs away from home after killing the stepfather who raped her. Alone, scared and hungry, having witnessed all kinds of violence, Josie disguises herself as a boy and is given shelter by an itinerant preacher, Rev. John Trethman. The preacher soon discovers her deception, but they become devoted to one another, and John marries her in a solitary ceremony. The two continue the deception to fool his congregation and the British authorities who are ruthlessly hunting for spies and seditionists. When John is taken prisoner by the British, who think he is a spy, Josie, now pregnant, believes her husband is dead. Still disguised as the boy Joseph, she joins a South Carolina militia company marching to the fateful battle at Cowpens in January 1781. Josie endures hunger, cold, grief, fear of discovery and the dangerous attentions of a cruel sergeant who guesses her secret. Meanwhile, John is forced to become a chaplain for the murderous dragoon legion commanded by sadistic Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton and his Tories are also marching to Cowpens, to a battle which will become known as the American Cannae. Morgan's portrayal of the savagery of the Southern war is graphic and shocking, making the love between Josie and John all the more tender and passionate. 15-city author tour.(Oct. 10)