Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 September 2021
This was my first time reading any of this author’s work. My knowledge of American history would be fairly scanty but I did find this an excellent read and I will be recommending her books to friends and family, and look forward to more of her books in the future.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via Voracious readers Only. It was the title that drew my attention initially, and when I read on further, I decided I would try a read about the American Civil War, I’m so glad I did.
It was a wonderful read and it was obvious the author had been meticulous with her research. Once through the first chapter I was hooked, couldn’t put it down.
A beautiful Glittering Lie tells an exciting, heart-warming story without sparing some of the realities of war. it’s well written and the characters became very real to me. Loved it.
April has been signified as Confederate Heritage Month by many Southern states. The month is significant to the Southern cause in that the Civil War started and, for the most part, ended in April. In recognition, memorial services are held at Confederate cemeteries throughout the month. I have attended several of these ceremonies. They are poignant and beautiful remembrances of ancestors who suffered and died to protect their homes.
There were many atrocities that took place during the war. One of the worst was the conditions of Confederate POW camps. My novel, A Rebel Among Us, specifically discusses the conditions that took place at Elmira Prison Camp toward the end of the war.
PRIVATIONS, SUFFERING AND DELIBERATE CRUELTIES
“Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the blood of many of Lee’s men from insufficient and unsound food that a slight wound which would probably not have been reported at the beginning of the war would often cause blood-poison, gangrene, and death.
Yet the spirits of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition grew more desperate . . . it was a harrowing but not uncommon sight to see those hungry men gather the wasted corn from under the feet of half-fed horses, and wash and parch and eat it to satisfy in some measure their craving for food.”
General John B. Gordon,
“Reminiscences of the Civil War”
“Winter poured down its snows and its sleets upon Lee’s shelterless men in the trenches. Some of them burrowed into the earth. Most of them shivered over the feeble fires kept burning along the lines. Scanty and thin were the garments of these heroes. Most of them were clad in mere rags.
Gaunt famine oppressed them every hour. One quarter of a pound of rancid bacon and a little meal was the daily portion assigned to each man by the rules of the War Department. But even this allowance failed when the railroads broke down and left the bacon and the flour and the mean piled up beside the track in Georgia and the Carolinas. One sixth of the daily ration was the allotment for a considerable time, and very often the supply of bacon failed entirely.
At the close of the year, Grant had one hundred and ten thousand men. Lee had sixty-six thousand on his rolls, but this included men on detached duty, leaving him barely forty thousand soldiers to defend the trenches that were then stretched out forty miles in length from the Chickahominy to Hatcher’s Run.”
Henry Alexander White, “Life of Robert E. Lee.”
“When their own soldiers were suffering such hardships as these in the field, the Confederate leaders made every effort to exchange men so that helpless prisoners of war would not suffer in anything like equal measure, offering even to send back prisoners without requiring an equivalent. Hence, the charges brought against the Confederate government of intentional ill-treatment of prisoners of war are not supported by the facts.
[In the South] the same quantity and quality of rations were given to prisoners and guards; but that variety in food could not be had or transported on the broken-down railway system of a non manufacturing country, which system could not or did not provide sufficient clothes and food even for the Confederate soldiers in the field.
[The] control of the prisons in the North was turned over by Secretary Stanton and the vindictive and partisan men (who were later responsible also for the crimes of Reconstruction) to the lowest element of an alien population and to Negro guards of a criminal type, and such men as President Lincoln, Seward, McClellan, and the best people in the North were intentionally kept in ignorance of conditions in Northern prisons while officially furnished with stories as to “the deliberate cruelties” practiced in the South.”
(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page Andrews, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 399-406)
(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans; President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 45, issue #4, April 2021 ed.)
I received the March/April 2021 edition of the Confederate Veteran. Inside was a review for my novel, A Rebel Among Us. What an exciting surprise! I sent the book to the magazine about two years ago for a review, and I finally received one. However, since the time I sent a copy of the novel for review, I acquired a new publisher for the book, Westwood Books Publishing. The novel also has a new cover. Here it is:
Because the magazine is mailed out to Sons of Confederate Veterans members, it isn’t published on a website. So I copied the review and am posting it here. Thank you, Cathy Hanford West, for your nice review! (Spoiler alert: much of the plot is revealed in this review.)
This review of my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is short and sweet, but it gets right to the point! Thank you so much, Kevin Marsh, for your flattering review.
A novel set in the American Civil War which was historically accurate, very readable and enjoyable. My first time reading of any of this author’s work and, given the book is the first in a series, will not be the last.
I recently received another review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Pamela Loose, for your flattering review!
Review of A Beautiful Glittering Lie
This is a well written story with vivid descriptions of the lives of Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. The comparison between their lives and those of the people left behind is fascinating.
I recently received more reviews for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thanks to the people who wrote these reviews! This novel is the first in the Renegade Series, which is a saga about the Summers family from north Alabama, and describes what the Civil War does to their lives.
I had a little trouble getting into this book, but once I did – I didn’t want to put it down. I have read several books about the Civil War, but written from the side of the North. This novel is written from the point of view of a family from Alabama. J D R Hawkins’ writing style is such that I grew to feel I knew the family who were the principal characters in the book. My only complaint, if you can call it that, was that the book ended rather abruptly. There are however, two books which apparently continue the story. All in all – I loved it! I will place J D R Hawkins on my favorite authors list!
From Pam C:
I received this book from Voracious Readers. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was heartbreaking for the father & son but war is horrible for all families. For anyone enjoying historical fiction, I recommend this.
And this from Jackie:
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!
Halloween is nearly upon us. This year will look much different because of Covid-19. Parties will be limited, Trick or Treating will include social distancing, and of course, everyone will be wearing masks, whether they are Halloween-themed or not. This Halloween will be extra special, because it will have a full moon, which is the second one this month, and is known as a blue moon. The holiday will also be followed by the end of daylight savings time and Election Day next Tuesday. We’re in for a bit of crazy during the next few days!
In the spirit of Halloween, I would like to share an excerpt from my novel, A Rebel Among Us. Two of the main characters discuss their renditions of All Hallows Eve. I hope you enjoy it. Have a safe and happy Halloween!
On October 31, Patrick arrived with a bottle of whiskey and invited David to partake with him. They stood shivering at the back door, passing the bottle between them.
“‘Tis Samhain tonight, lad. All Hallow’s Eve. Were ye aware of it?”
David nodded. “Where’d you git this whiskey?” he asked.
“Aye, ‘tis a grand thing the Meyers provide me with allowance for such an indulgence,” he replied. He pulled a pipe from his coat pocket and lit it. Puffing away, he shook his head and remarked, “Sure’n ‘tis a far cry from real tobacco.”
A thought crossed David’s mind. “I’ll be right back,” he said.
He went upstairs to his room, grabbed the pouch of tobacco, and brought it back down to his friend.
Patrick peeked inside before taking a deep whiff. “Ah!” he sighed, relishing the pungent aroma. “Might this be the Southern tobacco I’ve heard tell about?”
David grinned. “Jake brought it along for tradin’, and this here’s what’s left.”
Patrick loaded his pipe, relit it, and puffed euphorically, smiling all the while. “‘Tis a wee bit o’ heaven, indeed.” He glanced at his friend. “Now, have ye any scary tales from the Southland that might have me skin crawlin’?”
David thought for a moment, “There’s a story from north Alabama about a place called the Red Bank.”
Raising his eyebrows, Patrick said, “Let’s see if ye might be tellin’ it frightfully enough to send a shiver up me spine.” He happily puffed away.
David grinned. He lowered his voice so it was a threatening grumble and delved into his story. Once he had completed the tale of an Indian maiden who had killed herself after losing her baby and had promptly turned into a ghost, he paused.
Patrick puffed silently on his pipe. “Well, now, I have a scarier one.” He puffed again, took a swig from the whiskey bottle, handed it to David, and said, “‘Tis an old tale from the motherland.”
The wind blew past them, whistling off through the barren fields. Both young men shivered, suddenly aware of the ominous darkness surrounding them.
David forced a nervous laugh before taking a swallow. “All right, Patrick. Let’s hear it.”
He took a puff and slowly exhaled. “There once lived a wealthy lady who was courted by two lords. One of the lords grew so jealous of the other that he plotted to kill his rival. So one night, he snuck into the unsuspectin’ lad’s bedchamber. But instead of choppin’ off his head—”
He said this with so much exuberance David jumped.
“He accidentally chopped off his legs instead.”
A dog howled in the distance, adding to the nuance of Patrick’s eerie Irish story.
“His torso received a proper burial, but his legs were tossed into a hole in the castle garden and covered with dirt. The murderin’ lord deceived the lady by tellin’ her the other suitor had abandoned his proposal to her. She agreed to marriage. But on their weddin’ night, in walked the two bodyless legs.”
An owl hooted from somewhere off in the empty trees.
“The legs followed the bridegroom relentlessly until the day he died. It’s said the legs can still be seen walkin’ round by themselves. ‘Tis a true phuca.” Upon this conclusion, Patrick puffed on the pipe. Smoke billowed around his head like an apparition.
“What’s a phuca?” asked David.
“A ghost,” Patrick responded.
Raising a skeptical eyebrow, David snorted. “I reckon that’s the dumbest spook story I ever did hear.”
A gate near the barn caught in the wind and slammed loudly against the fencepost. The two men jumped. They chuckled at their reaction, but immediately felt the terrible chill. Reasoning they would be more comfortable inside, they entered the kitchen, consumed the remainder of the whiskey, and bid each other goodnight. Patrick returned home, and David retired quietly upstairs, careful not to wake the others. Relieved the fireplace had been lit for him, he undressed.
Climbing into bed, he snickered at the thought of two legs unattached to a body, chasing after a rival. Once he’d fallen asleep, however, the thought invaded his dreams. The legs ran toward him. Right behind them rode the headless Union horseman. The torso raised its saber and swung it where its head should have been. Just as the blade came down, David jolted awake. He gasped to catch his breath, realizing, once again, his imagination had gotten the best of him. Slowly, he lay back. Unable to sleep, he listened to the wind rattle the shutters and shake through the skeleton-like tree limbs from outside the frosty, lace-covered windows.