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"Christmas is a Yankee holiday only fit for slaves . . ."
"Savannah . . . creates a world rife with fascinating characters that draw the reader completely into the lives and views of the times."
Christmas is a Yankee holiday only fit for slaves, but in the waning months of the Civil War it will become the glue that binds Yankee and rebel as Sherman warms the Georgia winter with a fiery path to the sea.
Her husband dead in the war, Sara Lester and her twelve-year-old daughter, Hattie, struggle to keep their rice plantation safe from the greedy clutches of her relatives and marauding Yankees. General Sherman burns a path across Georgia; Sara and Hattie are in the way. When Sherman’s forward troops destroy the dikes and flood the rice fields Sara and Hattie are forced to take their pig Amelia and to stay with Sara’s best friend. The Lesters and their friends keep fear of Sherman’s fires at bay by scraping together the materials to make Christmas gifts for the less fortunate children of the war ravaged town.
General William Tecumseh Sherman has no intention of burning Savannah to the ground and offers it as a Christmas gift to President Lincoln, but he gets more than he bargained for when the holiday season works magic on Yankee and rebel hearts.
John Jakes is well known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Civil War, its time, people, places and sensibilities. Each of his books offer an intimate view of the minds and hearts on both sides of the conflict, but with Savannah he creates a world rife with fascinating characters that draw the reader completely into the lives and views of the times. Jakes closely matches fact and fiction into a seamless concoction that leaves the reader slightly disoriented from their visit to the past. His characters are cut from whole cloth with the patches, dirt, wrinkles, and sweat intact. The people live and breath, love and hate, quirks, depth, and honesty intact.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell