Just look at that cover....is that cheesy saga material, or what? No wonder A Reader's Respite couldn't resist. We're such a sucker for a big ol' family drama-saga and at 600+ pages, this one certainly fit the bill.
Now y'all know this one wasn't going to be winning any Pulitzers, right? It's about as subtle as a freight train. Published by Viking in 1978, Fred Stewart offers up a steamy dish of love, war (the US Civil War to be exact), betrayal, murder, wealth, politics, Mexican bandits, cheating spouses, faked deaths....the list goes on and on.
The story chiefly follows one young couple, married at the onset of the Civil War and follows their lives through the war, on to Paris during the reign Napoleon III and the ensuing fall of the Second French Empire, and down to Mexico for the stirrings of the revolution to come in 1910. Whew. It's a long ride, but a fun one riddled with enough drama for an afternoon soap opera.
Napoleon III and his Empress Eugenie in better days
Stewart's writing is sound and the man knows how to build tension in a scene. Of course, some descriptions and scenes do stray a bit over the top, but who can blame him? When you have the power to do things like give your character a fatal case of syphilis or bring him back from the dead, you're bound to run away with it a tad.
If you can find the book (not an easy task since it's been out of print for years and years), it's worth a read. A Reader's Respite went on a dedicated hunt for this book upon discovery of the infamous thread over at Amazon, entitled Bar none the very best historical novels. This thread is now 6,285 posts long chocked full of historical fiction recommendations by book lovers and if you haven't seen it yet, be prepared to be sucked in for hours and hours. A Rage Against Heaven was the first recommendation in this long, long thread and we consider it a badge of honor that we tracked it down and read it.
We'll even leave you with our most memorable sentence (disclaimer: don't read on if your sensibilities are too delicate. You've been warned!):
Lew rolled over on top of her and straddled her, his throbbing *enis jutting out below his belly like the bowsprit of a Yankee clipper.
We laughed over that line for about two days. *snort* Good luck trying to get that image out of your head. You'll never watch the America's Cup in the same way again.
FTC crap: A Reader's Respite purchased this book and we've gotta tell you, it took forever and a day to find a copy that wasn't listed for $60+. And we sure are grateful we were patient because the book was most assuredly NOT worth $60.