A few months back I reviewed Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green, which was about a young woman who is called to be a nurse during the Civil War. She faces opposition from doctors, her family and many others. Fire by Night by Lynn Austin also takes a look at the dangers, prejudice and horror women faced in the Civil War when called upon to serve both in different ways.
Julia is the pampered daughter of a wealthy family, who, wanting to impress the handsome young reverend who thinks she is shallow, decides to take up nursing. At first, she is horrified by what she sees, not realizing her romantic vision of it doesn’t exist. But with time and determination, and despite the very unfriendly and possibly dangerous doctor she works for… the side we see are those left behind who have to deal with the loss of loved ones.
Phoebe is a very different woman. Very tall, ungraceful and mannish, after all her brothers leave to fight in the war, she cuts her hair, dons men’s clothes and enlists. From Phoebe’s story we learn the horror of the war on the front lines. Men blown up in front of you when just a moment you were talking to them, the bad food, the mud and the loss of humanity.
This book is book two in her Refiner’s Fire series. The first is Candle in the Darkness and the third is A Light to My Path. The first is told from the viewpoint of a southern woman, the third from a slave. I highly recommend this series. Fire by Night kept my up very late. There were times I felt like crying at the senseless loss of life. Yes the Civil War was necessary, but you almost with there would have been a bloodless way we could have solved it.