cover image Homeland


Barbara Hambly, . . Bantam, $26 (322pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80552-9

Two women, one a Northerner with a husband fighting for the Confederacy, and one a Southerner yearning to attend art school in Philadelphia, exchange letters and find in their unlikely friendship the strength to survive the Civil War, and though shades of Scarlett O’Hara occasionally pop up, Hambly manages a mostly original take on a much-covered era. Newly wed to Tennessean Emory Poole, Cora Poole retreats to Deer Isle, Maine, to remain true to her husband among friends and relatives who abhor his allegiance and suspect hers. In Greene County, Tenn., Emory’s neighbor, Susanna Ashford, dabbles in the arts while facing an increasingly dire reality. The correspondents share feelings, views of current events and accounts of their respective tribulations: Susanna nurses the wounded, hunts and sews to pay for her sister’s midwife. Cora raises her infant daughter, cares for her demented mother and also sews as the war exhausts resources. The leads are three-dimensional, occasionally surprising and always sympathetic as they find in their unlikely friendship the strength to accept the loss of their ways of life and to seek new ways where they both might thrive. (Sept.)