Against the Wind by Ann Nolder Heinz

Against the Wind by Ann Nolder Heinz
Publisher: Self
Published: March 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction, American Civil War
Pages: 256
Available: ebook, paperback

Sex: 💓 None 😉
Violence: 😦  prison brutality, appropriate for the story

Author's Bio: I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where life flowed as deep and tranquil as the Cedar River that divided east from west. I was fortunate enough to be born into a family where books were collected and revered. My earliest memories are of the sublime pleasure to be had from reading, first cuddled next to my grandmother in her big overstuffed rocking chair as she read the children’s classics aloud, then curled up on my own as I graduated from story collections and Little Golden Books to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and finally to the contemporary and classic novels in my mother’s library. I was already a lifelong book junkie, the first step to becoming a writer.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington with a major in sociology. When I am not writing, I work as the office manager of my husband’s civil engineering and surveying firm. We reside in East Dundee, Illinois, where several “depots” on the Underground Railroad were said to have been located.

The Plot in brief: (No spoilers) Dr. Gwendoline Pickering receives distressing news, her fiance, Carl, a Union officer, has been captured and is being held in Richmond, Virginia. Gwen is determined to rescue him. With the help of the Secretary of War, Gwen travels into enemy territory to make contact with a sympathizer, known for her ability to smuggle people across enemy lines. In the face of danger, Gwen struggles to free the man she loves.

The Characters: The characters are well drawn and believable and the author gives us two strong female leads. Gwen is a rare female doctor who garners both respect and derision for choosing a profession other than that of housewife. Her strong will and perseverance propel her to rescue her fiance, Carl, who she loves, while at the same time recognizing his weakness of character. The author features the very real Elizabeth Van Lew, a union spy who helps prisoners escape the harsh confederate prison camps. Heinz demonstrates that you can have strong female characters that stay within the boundaries of historical social conventions. The male characters are equally well drawn. 

The History: I enjoyed the history of this story, especially the inclusion of spy/sympathizer Elizabeth Van Lew.  I also like the description of the 1860s Washington D.C., in fact it so intrigued me that I googled photos from that era to get a peek.  The best part about historical fiction is learning something new. Did you know that Yorktown, Virginia was a Union outpost, I didn't and I lived just down the highway from the place for several years! 

The Writing: The writing is very formal and the dialogue a bit stiff, at times. I assume the author's intent is to give the reader a flavor for the speech of the Civil War Era. Once I got used to the narrative, I appreciated the tone and language which make it clear that the book is first and foremost a work of historical fiction as opposed to a romance novel. There are pockets of description which sometimes felt like info dumps. Some readers might object to this but I found, that although it might not move the plot along,  it was informative and interesting.

Overall: A well written, well edited book is always a delight. The history is appealing, the story believable, the characters interesting and the story line tight.

Recommendation: Anyone who loves historical fiction, has an interest in the American Civil War, appreciates strong female leads is sure to enjoy this book. There is a love story at the heart of this book, but this is not a romance novel.

My Rating: I give this book 4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My Ratings: 

1 ⭐  Star: Not good at all, do not read!

2 ⭐⭐ Stars: Read only as a last resort, no other books available

3 ⭐⭐⭐Stars: Good, enjoyed it, will recommend with reservations

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐Stars: Really good, read this book!

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Stars: So good, I might read it again sometime! Highly recommend


Post a Comment

Popular Posts