Sunflower Sisters
by Kelly, Martha Hall






Union nurse Georgeanna Woolsey, an ancestor of Caroline Ferriday, travels with her sister to Gettysburg, where they cross paths with a slave-turned-army conscript and her cruel plantation mistress. By the best-selling author of Lilac Girls.





Martha Hall Kelly is the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls and Lost Roses. She lives in Connecticut, where she spends her days filling legal pads with stories and reading World War II books.





Kelly's third foray into the lives of the affluent Woolsey women is as well-researched and engaging as Lilac Girls (2016) and Lost Roses (2019), this time focusing on the American Civil War. Georgeanna (Georgy) Woolsey leaves her privileged life to serve as a Union nurse; Anne-May Wilson is a plantation and slave owner in Maryland whose self-importance draws her into espionage; and Jemma is an enslaved woman on that plantation who is sold and then conscripted into the Union army. Crossing paths with President Lincoln and present at the battle of Gettysburg, Georgy sees the ravages of war and the effects of slavery on her country. Meanwhile, Jemma flees Maryland for New York City, remembering the Woolsey's address from a chance encounter. The family takes her in, fostering her skill for millinery. But Anne-May follows, fleeing accusations of treason and seeking to regain what she considers her stolen property. Drawing on real events and primary sources, Kelly illuminates parts of history infrequently told. Offer it to fans of Marie Benedict, the Civil War era, and readers who enjoy historical fiction starring real people. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





A saga of the Civil War gathers all the usual suspects‚?"enslaved people, slave owners, abolitionists, soldiers, and nurses‚?"but the result is far from cliched. Kelly‚??s ambitious tale begs to be called "sweeping," but its chief virtue is the way it homes in on the microcosms, some horrific, inhabited by its three narrators. Georgy, from New York, one of seven daughters of the abolitionist Woolsey family, is determined to become a nurse. She studies with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, America‚??s first female medical school graduate, and strives to batter down prejudice not just against women doctors, but women nurses. Despite her proven ability, she‚??s often replaced at battlefield hospitals by incompetent, drunken male nurses. Jemma‚??s family is enslaved on the Peeler tobacco plantation in the border state of Maryland, where the White population seems equally divided between Union and Rebel sympathies. Firmly in the second camp is Anne-May, who inherited the Peeler plantation from her elderly Aunt Tandy Rose, flouting her late aunt‚??s testamentary directive to free Peeler‚??s slaves. Anne-May is bad to the bone, whips Jemma regularly, employs a brutal overseer, spends her family‚??s dwindling funds on fripperies, is addicted to snuff, and takes advantage of her husband‚??s absence at the front to flagrantly carry on an affair with a local merchant. The affair turns into a spying mission for the Confederacy, involuntarily abetted by Jemma, who, more literate than Anne-May, is forced to write down Union secrets in Anne-May‚??s little red book. And that‚??s only the beginning of Anne-May‚??s moral bankruptcy. These alternating, intimate vantage points situate readers in the chaotic political, military, and social hellscapes of Civil War America, from Gettysburg to the draft riots. Cliffhangers closing each chapter keep the plot moving at a satisfying clip. Historical verisimilitude worthy of a Ken Burns documentary but oh so much more lurid. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





A saga of the Civil War gathers all the usual suspects‚?"enslaved people, slave owners, abolitionists, soldiers, and nurses‚?"but the result is far from cliched. Kelly‚??s ambitious tale begs to be called "sweeping," but its chief virtue is the way it homes in on the microcosms, some horrific, inhabited by its three narrators. Georgy, from New York, one of seven daughters of the abolitionist Woolsey family, is determined to become a nurse. She studies with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, America‚??s first female medical school graduate, and strives to batter down prejudice not just against women doctors, but women nurses. Despite her proven ability, she‚??s often replaced at battlefield hospitals by incompetent, drunken male nurses. Jemma‚??s family is enslaved on the Peeler tobacco plantation in the border state of Maryland, where the White population seems equally divided between Union and Rebel sympathies. Firmly in the second camp is Anne-May, who inherited the Peeler plantation from her elderly Aunt Tandy Rose, flouting her late aunt‚??s testamentary directive to free Peeler‚??s slaves. Anne-May is bad to the bone, whips Jemma regularly, employs a brutal overseer, spends her family‚??s dwindling funds on fripperies, is addicted to snuff, and takes advantage of her husband‚??s absence at the front to flagrantly carry on an affair with a local merchant. The affair turns into a spying mission for the Confederacy, involuntarily abetted by Jemma, who, more literate than Anne-May, is forced to write down Union secrets in Anne-May‚??s little red book. And that‚??s only the beginning of Anne-May‚??s moral bankruptcy. These alternating, intimate vantage points situate readers in the chaotic political, military, and social hellscapes of Civil War America, from Gettysburg to the draft riots. Cliffhangers closing each chapter keep the plot moving at a satisfying clip. Historical verisimilitude worthy of a Ken Burns documentary but oh so much more lurid. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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