Recently, I received more five-star reviews for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, and I wanted to share them. This book is the first one in the Renegade Series. It tells the story of a family from north Alabama, and how the Civil War impacts them. Thank you so much for the reviews!
This is a beautiful story of a family’s sacrifices and struggles as they stand up to a belief and their country. While we, as readers, encounter all the perils of the war, some ugly truths also surface, that make us question about the many facts and legends associated with the Civil War.
This book is a historical fiction centered around the Civil War. Not for the weak hearted. The POV in this is from the south so keep that in mind. Not for everyone but a good read. Great job to the author.
Author/singer/songwriter JDR Hawkins writes novels and articles for newspapers, magazines, e-zines and blogs about the Civil War from the Confederate perspective. Her RENEGADE Series is rapidly winning multiple awards; the initial volume is this exceptional book – A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE. This series, now four books in number, relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. At this particular time in our history, when questions are being raised about the validity of statues and memorabilia of the Civil War, creating heated discussions and confrontations, this book offers a fresh view of the Civil War from the Southern, and Confederate, stance. For a more complete picture of that historical event, Hawkins has created a fictional revisit to that mid 1800s time and her writing is inviting, from the first lines: “Oh, look! Here he comes!” Jenny exclaimed. The crowd exploded with cheers. David looked over to where she was pointing, his hazel eyes squinting in the bright sunshine. An elegant black lacquered carriage drawn by six white horses pulled up to the steps of the regal Greek revival-style state building. Eight musicians burst into “Dixie’s Land.” A slender, steely middle-aged gentleman stepped out of the carriage and was escorted by military personnel to a waiting platform, where he took his seat. “He looks sickly to me,” remarked David’s father, Hiram…’ Approaching her novel from the family standpoint allows everyone entry to better understand the Confederate vantage.
With that sense of presence, the plot progresses as follows: ‘In the spring of 1861, a country once united is fractured by war. Half of America fights for the Confederate cause; the other, for unification. Rebel forces have already seized Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, a new Confederate president has been elected, and the Constitution has been revised. In north Alabama, a farmer and father of three decides to enlist. For Hiram Summers, it is the end of everything he has ever known. After Hiram travels to Virginia with the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment, he is quickly thrust into combat. His son, David, who must stay behind, searches for adventure at home by traipsing to Huntsville with his best friend, Jake Kimball, to scrutinize invading Yankees. Meanwhile, Caroline – Hiram’s wife and David’s mother – struggles to keep up with the farm as her world revolves around the letters she receives from her husband, whom she misses dearly. As Hiram and his son discover the true meaning of war, they soon realize that their choices have torn their family apart. The naïveté of a young country is tested, a father sacrifices everything to defend his home, and a young man longs for adventure – regardless of the perilous cost.’
This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars.
I am frequently asked how I came up with the title for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie (the first book in the Renegade Series). I derived it from this wonderful quote, which a Confederate soldier wrote in his journal.
“For it was the first Field of Glory I had seen in my May of life, and the first time that Glory sickened me with its repulsive aspect, and made me suspect it was all a glittering lie.” – Henry Morton Stanley, C.S.A.
It is difficult to imagine what went through the young soldiers’ minds when they finally “saw the elephant” – horrifying, no doubt, and exhilarating at the same time. But soldiers weren’t the only ones who experienced such terror. This excerpt describes how their loved ones must have felt. Some of them never received word of what had happened to their brave soldiers. War always involves tragedy, but I think not knowing would be the worst part.
Word of the battle quickly spread to Huntsville, and within days, filtered down into Morgan County. Caroline had mentally prepared herself for what she anticipated would happen, but when the first battle finally did take place, she found herself ill-equipped. She did her best to shelter her brood, but realized it was just a matter of time before they learned of the event.
The following week, she found out that a list of fatalities had been posted, and knew she had to drive to Ben Johnson’s mercantile to have a look, but all the while, her heart felt as though it was breaking. She dreaded the list, dreaded the result of the terrible fighting, and especially, dreaded what the war might be doing to her home. Going alone, she reached her destination, climbed down from the wagon, hitched her draft horse, and approached the two-story wooden structure, her ankle boots clunking up the wooden steps and across the porch’s floorboards as she walked. She pulled the front door open, and a tiny bell above it announced her arrival. As she entered, she saw several others gathered around a notice that had been tacked to the wall. Ben Johnson nodded. He threw a glance toward the posted list. She knew what it meant.
Slowly, feeling as though she was floating, she passed by the dry goods, glass cases displaying pottery, clothing and sewing notions, and under farm equipment hanging from the ceiling rafters, approaching the others. Some of the women were sobbing, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, while others turned away and stared at her with vacant eyes. As they drifted off, she stepped toward the ominous poster, held her breath, and forced herself to gaze upon the names. When she had reached the bottom, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hiram’s name wasn’t on the list, although she recognized one who was. Turning toward the counter, she wiped a trickling tear from her cheek as she walked over, and requested a copy of the Southern Advocate.
Initially at a loss for words, Ben cleared his throat. “I reckon Hiram’s name ain’t on there,” he finally said.
The revelation had started sinking in. Caroline smiled. “No, thankfully not.”
Ben returned the smile. “Right glad to hear it.” He handed her a newspaper. “The editor of this paper, Mr. William Figures, has a son who’s with your husband’s regiment.”
“Oh?” she replied cordially. “He’s all right ain’t he? I mean, I didn’t see …”
“Yes ma’am, far as I can tell.”
“That’s mighty fine. Well, I’ll be on my way. Good day, Mr. Johnson.”
She turned to leave, and as she opened the paned-glass door, Ben called out, “When you write to that man of yours, tell him I said hello.”
“I surely will,” she replied. Walking out to the wagon, she untied Joe Boy, climbed aboard, and slapped the reins. She drove out of view from the mercantile, and pulled the vehicle to a stop. Uncontrollably, she burst into tears, sobbing convulsively until the ache in her heart finally subsided. She couldn’t show her weakness to her children: for them she had to be strong. After wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, she drove on toward home.
This is not the usual type of book that I read but the blurb was the thing that completely drew me into it. This is the first book in the series , set in the Civil War , we follow Hiram Summers as he is thrown into the combat , his family who have to stay behind struggle without him there but know he had to enlist and fight for the cause. Hiram and his son uncover the meaning of the war and soon realise that the choices they have made have torn the family they love apart.
It is brilliantly written , it has lots of action , secrets and drama to keep hold of your attention and keep you reading on. The book is only 199pages which for me is the perfect length of book in this genre , it is quick to read for the fact it flows so well throughout the book. It definitely makes me want to read on the rest of the series.
I recently received two new five-star reviews for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. This book is the first one in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, VEdwards and Joshua Grant, for your reviews!
It was interesting to read a book on the Civil War from the average Southern resident’s perspective. I haven’t really found any that tell of the bad things the Northern soldiers did to the Southern cities and people. The North is painted in such a positive light by most books that you really don’t get a realistic sense of the truth. The writing was excellent and the characters interesting. Descriptions of both everyday life and battle were well written and distinctive. I look forward to reading more from JDR Hawkins.
JDR Hawkins brings the Civil War to life through the eyes of a family in A Beautiful Glittering Lie! The Confederacy has just broken away from the Union and Southern farmer Hiram Summers decides to enlist in the army, soon getting whisked away to war. Meanwhile, his wife Caroline and son David discover the realities of war on the home front. I loved Hawkins’ focus on this one family as it gave the avenue to see the war from three different perspectives: that of the soldier, the youth, and the mother trying to make ends meet on the farm! This is a novel with great feeling and intrigue, and I loved the characters and getting to experience their moral struggle. If you’re interested in the Civil War and want a good emotional novel, come enlist with A Beautiful Glittering Lie!
Recently, three of my books were featured via my publisher, Westwood Books Publishing, at the London Book Fair. I wish I would have had the chance to attend! It was an amazing turnout, and a great opportunity for people across the pond to see my books.
In other news…
My new novel, Double-Edged Sword, is being featured on BookGoodies. Here is the link:
Normally I haven’t read this type of novel, but this story grabbed from the beginning and is a page turner. The author painted a picture that placed me into the storyline. Voracious Readers gave me a complimentary copy of the book and I am glad that did. You should read this civil war tale.
A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins Westwood Books Publishing
book review by Kat Kennedy
“It’s the end of all things as we know them.”
At the beginning of the Civil War, Hiram Summers, a north Alabama farmer and father of three, enlists in the Confederate Army. When Hiram and his best friend, Bud, join the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment to fight in a war that many believe will last only a short time, he leaves his wife, Caroline, daughters (Rena and Josie), and son, David, to take care of the family farm. As the surviving son in the family, David realizes the enormity of this responsibility. “He came to the realization that he was now responsible for protecting his family, tending to the farm, and taking his father’s place as head of the household.” Both Hiram and his family soon discover the horrors of war both in battle and on the home front.
This award-winning novel is well-researched, and the inclusion of historical battles and speeches give it authenticity. As readers follow the story of the Summers family, they are transported to both battlefield and family farm in an emotional narrative. Hawkins’ gift for storytelling is evident in each chapter. Her description of the battlefield and its horrors of war are so compelling that readers can almost smell the gunpowder. “Men dropped around him like flies, the thud of bullets sinking into them before their bodies exploded with blood.” Not only are the author’s descriptions of the devastation of battle intriguing, her attention to detail when relating the dangers faced by those on the home front is impeccable. “Two riders approached up the lane. It was still too dark for her to make out who they were. She rushed over to the gun rack, took down the shotgun, and walked out the front door to the porch.”
The novel explores the theme of friendship and brotherhood through both the relationship between Hiram and Bud as well as the one between David and Jake. The way in which Hiram and Bud look out for each other on the battlefield is a testament to the love the two soldiers have for each other. “Hiram stopped to catch his breath, watching the smoke clear. He looked around for Bud until he finally saw him walking toward him.” David and Jake also share a close bond, which is evident not only in their banter but also in the way they engage with each other during a trip to Huntsville to check out the location of Northern troops. “David jolted awake, realizing it was daybreak. Chilled to the bone, he shivered as he stood, and went outside. Jake was nowhere to be seen. Alarmed by his absence, he looked in every direction… Jake! Answer me, damn it!”
With its descriptive narrative, it is no surprise that this novel is the recipient of awards. The work won the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the B.R.A.G. Medallion. History buffs will appreciate the attention to detail and the inclusion of actual speeches, battles, and Civil War-era songs. The continuing story of the Summers family can be found in the next two books of the series, A Beckoning Hellfire and A Rebel Among Us, which are also award-winning novels. This is a very good thing because the current book is a novel that engages the reader and leaves one eager to read the next one.
The narration of this book is excellent. It is plain to see that the author has an intense fascination with the American Civil War. Her descriptions of people, animals and places make you feel as though you are there with them. As a non-American I found it a little difficult to keep up with where all the places are (my copy didn’t have a map in the cover, which would have been helpful!) and the names of all the generals were lost on me. I found it a little confusing with the many names of the different sides at first, having never studied American history. However, once I got going I found it easy enough to work out. The book shows the civil war through the eyes of an ordinary Southern family, which is an interesting perspective and does not glamourise the war at all. It is a working class family’s story, which makes it easy to relate to. Be prepared to read the rest of the series – the ending leaves you wanting more!
Although not the genre of book I would normally read I was given the opportunity to read and review this book by the author through Voracious Readers. Looking for something different I jumped at the chance and was glad I did. Hawkins writes in such a way that the reader feels they are part of the story. A novel written about America’s battle between the North and the South the closest I’d come to reading anything around this period was Gone With the Wind so it’s definitely not my normal style. However I saw every battle scene clearly felt every emotion and experience expressed by Bud, Hiram, David, Jake and their families, friends and comrades. I found myself praying for Bud and Hiram’s safe return, internally yelling warnings at the boys, and reaching for tissues when Sally was stolen and Hiram didn’t return as planned. A great book well written and one I’d highly recommend
The work follows how the lives of a family from a small town in Alabama are affected by the Civil War. I usually steer clear of historical fiction revolving around wars because they’re all battles or overly romanticized. The author of this work does an excellent job at finding a balance; this is one of the most realistic works of fiction I’ve read concerning the Civil War. The author did her research. The characters are also well-written and aren’t static, making the work engaging. I received a complimentary copy of this work through Voracious Readers Only in exchange for my honest opinion.