Grant Me Timely Grace
This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
Union Major Russell Johns wonders why he wasn’t courts-martialed. He's being played by Confederate spy and confidant of Lincoln’s cabinet Gerard Chantier. Gerard’s plans will end with Washington’s capture by JEB Stuart, Lincoln’s kidnapping and win the war for the South. Can Russell use Chantier’s daughter to get to Gerard? He must face a daunting moral challenge he's ill-prepared for.
An Impressive First Novel
In Grant Me Timely Grace, Timothy Woods does a nice job of evoking a peculiar time in U.S. history--June 1863. It was a time when most people just assumed that the Confederacy would win the war. The Union had one bad commanding general after another, and the government was corrupt to a degree that is hard to conceive of today. The Confederate calvary lurked near Washington D.C. at the same time that the main union army left it. Britain was very close to acknowledging the Confederacy. I've been a civil war buff since its 100 year anniversary, so I knew intellectually that most of this happened, but to have it brought to life so vividly in this novel had a strong impact; it made all this much more emotionally real. Reading Timely Grace was like reading a good alternative history novel--like Robert Harris' Fatherland which was set in a Germany that won WWII. The setting in Timely Grace felt unreal (in a good and interesting way). The thing is, this wasn't an imaginary situation. The context Woods places his characters in was real, and this makes his novel that much more interesting.
I learned some things reading this novel. For example, I was unaware that there were networks of African-American spies during the civil war. Also, much of the novel occurs in a setting I had not heard of--the "contraband camp." At this time slaves were still regarded as property under U.S. law. When they escaped from the south, the Union refused to return them to their southern "owners," claiming that they were "contraband"--just like any other property confiscated during the war. Large groups of these escaped slaves formed communities throughout the U.S. and these were called "contraband camps."
There were a few minor problems. The novel had a few anachronisms and one main character was a little too close to Spike Lee's concept of "the magical negro" for my taste. But these are really just quibbles, really.
Overall, this is an impressive first novel. Woods has a real eye for detail. The characters and settings are quite vivid.
Timely Grace has a believable and intriguing plot that I got caught up in. This book is a real page-turner, and as it started to build toward the climax, I found it hard to put down; reading it started seriously cutting into time I should have spent working and sleeping. So be forewarned, my recommendation is--don't read it during the middle of the work week.