Savannah: Or a Gift For Mr. Lincoln
by John Jakes
Amazon.com Product Description: Georgia 1864: Sherman's army marches inexorably from Atlanta to the sea. In its path: the charming old city of Savannah, where the Lester ladies-attractive widow Sara and her feisty twelve-year-old daughter Hattie-struggle to save the family rice plantation. When Sherman offers the conquered city to President Lincoln as "a Christmas gift," Hattie and the feared general find themselves on a collision course that will astonish both of them.
This was just so...so...so...
I like reading fiction about the South. I like the antebellum South, the South during the Civil War, the South during Reconstruction, the South in the late 19th and 20th centuries, and the lives of modern Southerners. There's just something enchanting about that part of the country. (I think a lot of it is simply because no other region of the United States has such a strong sense of identity.) So I figured that Savannah would be a great introduction to the work of John Jakes, since I wouldn't feel committed to one of his multi-volume series.
But this was so boring, and the problem lay squarely with the wooden, lifeless characters. They're the tired tropes that always seem to be trotted out: the spunky, spirited child, the tired widow, the unattractive spinster, the reluctant hero, the good-hearted but simple negro, the evil slavecatcher, and so on and on and on. Yawn.
The plot was very contrived. Little Hattie befriends Sherman? A man from the North woos a Confederate widow while her unattractive friend frets that all the Northern soldiers will ravish her? Err...
Half-assed, Mr. Jakes. Half-ASSED.
(To be fair to Mr. Jakes, I did listen to an abridged audio recording of this book, so I may have missed some of his great talent when I bypassed the longer version.)
2 stars out of 5