Books I’ve Known And Loved

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When you write about post-Civil War America it’s impossible not to bump up against war wounds. John Weldon in The House on Tenafly Road is addicted to morphine, given his first dose in a Civil War hospital by well-meaning doctors trying to keep him comfortable before his eventual death–which never happens. He escapes in his best friend’s new boots with a stash of morphine, laudanum and some new British-made syringes.

Only one man, Doctor Graham Crenshaw with some hidden mental war wounds of his own (his family blames him for the deaths of his brothers) recognizes Weldon’s problems, but he’s a quiet man. I thought after so much medical research he’d eventually get a good medical novel of his own but it’s in his character to work quietly in the background, allowing others to form their misconceptions about him and the bloody work he did during the war as a brilliant young surgeon.

With a name like Graham Crenshaw he deserved fame but instead served a higher purpose–he had piles of children with his wife, one of them being Buck Crenshaw. I think I’ll still get more medical one day (most of the Civil War medicine was cut from the first two novels) and I look forward to it because blood and guts and misplaced emotions are what I’m about as a writer.

By the way, Civil War Medicine by Alfred Jay Bollet, MD is fantastic even if you don’t like blood and guts.

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6 thoughts on “Books I’ve Known And Loved

  1. I’m not sure how to phrase this, but I’m guessing much of your work is based on genealogy? Peter Mathiessen put much of my family tree into his Watson trilogy. I had no problem with it and I thought he gave an excellent analysis. He did make a name change as the series continued and the trilogy merged into one book. I’m not sure if the name change came due to legal reasons. The one problem with independent publishing is the lack of resources, like legal. Most anything over one hundred years old seems safe to use.

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    • Actually, while I love my family tree I’ve only used one thing from it so far–the name Thankful. Everyone else in The House on Tenafly Road and in the rest of the series I’m working on are fictional characters not based on real people at all. Even Thankful is made up. Occasionally I do have historical people come through, but they’re never the main focus.

      One day I’d maybe consider doing a genealogy based book because there’s lots of crazy fun in my family–but even then I’m afraid I’d feel restricted by the real people.

      That’s exciting to think an author used your tree!

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  2. I have your book on my TBR list and soon hope to get to it. Being a nurse and both a DAR and a United Daughters of the Confederacy member, I have always had an interest in these sorts of things. My greatest ancestor of my paternal grandmother was in a Virginia regiment as an orderly during ARW, and on my maternal side a great grandfather, William Henry Durham was captured five times after his release from Camp Douglas Illinois when the Civil War ended while walking back home to Georgia with a bullet lodged near his spine. He was disabled from that wound, eventually, and had surgery in 1882 which he died from.

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    • Researchers are reconsidering the numbers of casualties often quoted because records were burned in the south and the records didn’t take into account the men who went home with wounds and quietly died later. Sad stuff.

      I could be a DAR member if I pursued it 🙂 I have three Revolutionary War veterans in my immediate family line. 🙂 One day I may seek to be admitted!
      The Fosters fought are credited with cutting the first roads through Maine/Massachusetts or something like that and Ensign Henry Loope was captured by the Brits and sent to Quebec.

      If I had another life I’d spend it doing genealogy. It’s so exciting to see where family traits come from!

      I have Civil War vets in my line as well though more like great great great uncles and cousins etc.
      (actually lost track of the greats)

      What a sad story about WH Durham. I used to collect Civil War prosthetics. I loved getting that close to something so intimate and heartbreaking about the war.

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      • I joined DAR in high school. They called for essays. I forget now what I wrote about. I really have not been active. My cousins are all into Civil War re-enactments. If I was still in Georgia, I would probably participate. Some people feel it is racist, but I disagree. I believe it is part of history and should NOT be sanitized. I recently read a Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn book that had been sanitized. It’s ridiculous. We are supposed to live in the free world and not be censored…and yet they do it to be “less offensive”. My grandchildren are mixed race and I want them to know the whole truth, not some sugar coated version of it.

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      • People are too easily offended and the rest of us feel too guilty. The entirety of world history is one of cruelty with momentary glimpses of something better though not perfect.

        Slavery continues even now. When I did re-enacting there were people who wanted to play Confederate black soldiers in a unit that prided itself on authenticity and this particular Alabama unit only had slaves attached to their group. The group had to disband over the cries of racism–but it didn’t make sense. We lived in NJ and there were plenty of groups playing black Northern troops. It’s sticky, I guess.

        To me the more real history is shown the closer we get to see that everyone if you go back far enough has some glory and some disgrace in their bloodlines.

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