I grew up reading the kind of historical fiction that revolves tightly around real historical events or people. I loved how much I learned, not just of how people lived in another time and place, but how they lived out events on a larger scale–events that have lived on and even grown large from the perspective of time.
I don’t exactly write these kinds of historical novels, though it isn’t as if I don’t desire to do so. I think I’ve been intimidated by the magnitude of the task. Perhaps others feel the same, for as a reader, I’ve despaired in the past several years that such types of historical fiction have become harder to find. So when I picked up Tracy Groot’s The Sentinels of Andersonville I really didn’t expect much more than a story woven around the notorious Civil War prison camp. What I got was a amazing read that took me inside that prison, that introduced me to the town where it resided, that sketched a portrait of the men responsible for it–and then fictionalized a conglomeration of individuals who decided they could not live with the knowledge of the conditions there and do nothing.
Honestly, this is old school historical fiction– and I loved every single page of it! Now I want to read all of Tracy’s books. I moved up her Christy Award-winning Flame of Resistance in my TBR pile. In fact, I really think I just want to be Tracy Groot when I grow up!
If you love history and a good story, I promise you won’t be able to put this one down. You will learn about history, but you will also be forced to think of today. Of yourself. Of how you respond to the knowledge that finds its way to you. You will close the book richer, both in knowledge of the past and in an understanding of your own heart. I can’t ask any more from a novel that that.