Author Robert Hicks is, in his words, a passionate Civil War preservationist. His first novel, Widow of the South is based on a real event. In A Separate Country, Hicks again explores the ramifications of the historic Battle of Franklin. Specifically he explores the life of Confederate General John Bell Hood, who played a key role in that battle, when he returns to New Orleans and marries Anna Marie Hennen.
Hick's exploration of these historic events is more on a personal level. Hood's regret, his attempts to atone for his past actions as well Anna Marie's non conformity and deep love for her husband are told in the form of manuscripts and journals. It was interesting to hear the same story of an event from two, sometimes three, viewpoints. A lot of the story is very much character driven. There is a storyline involving childhood friends of Anna Marie's and that of Eli Griffin, but I found some of these characters 'over the top' and unbelievable. I would be curious to know if Hicks based these characters on known historical figures as well. Hicks has a beautiful way with words. His descriptions of places and emotions are riveting, evoking vivid pictures.
I enjoyed this book as a whole, but at times I wished for a faster pace.
A Separate Country utilizes the skills of three readers - Sherman Howard, Kevin T. Collins and Isabel Keating. Howard's voice is deep and sonorous, giving voice to the angst, anger and gravity of Hood. Keating has an interesting voice, alternately strong and playful, bringing a southern belle to life. Collins plays a young man named Griffin from Hood's past. Hood charges him with a task on his deathbed. Collins plays his role well - his voice is naive, defiant and laconic. All three conveyed a southern accent well.