Comment: I've heard so many good things about this book, I just had to try it myself. It was a while between knowing about it and getting it but now I finally scheduled it for this month's reads.
I was very eager to read this book and in fact, it was a wonderful read.
This is the story of Clayton, a man who refused to fight in the war between North and South, not only because he didn't think the south should be at war with the north but also because he didn't want to kill a fellow man. Of course the rest of the small town where he lived thought him a coward, even more so when the rest of the town's young men all joined the army voluntarily.
Meg is a young widow of one such man. She overlooks the friendship between Clay and her late husband Kirk and at a moment of rage demands Clay sculpts a monument dedicated to those who bravely fought and died in the war, as a punishment for Clay's refusal to fight too.
But while the two of them talk and spend time together discussing the monument, how it should be, what would be inscribed in it, Meg stars to see a different side to Clay and starts to understand why he refused to kill other human beings... but will others ever change their minds about him?
I had a great time reading this story. The emotional aspect of it is very well done, even more so because the author inserted many little details, almost tender, and that gave the story an almost ethereal feel. I think the way the characters dealt with prejudice, lack of communication and just cultural situations and knowledge was very vivid and certainly believable. Of course, seen through our contemporary eyes, we like to think we are all understanding and magnanimous but things aren't that simple. The author did a good job portraying the difficulties Clay had to be heard, to make his feelings known. It's not often we find conscience objectors in historicals, so the author did a great job in showing that reality, which, I'm sure, happened more than we are led to think about.
I really liked Clay. His personality, his values, his behavior in trying to be a good man, to have a clean conscience, to not get revenge on those who talked about him, who attacked his beliefs... he showed good people have strength in their values and try to be honest and truthful. Of course Clay comes out as a bit too perfect, but sincerely, I think he was just adorable and amazing in how he treated others and respected them.
Meg, of course, was the one who had to learn to forgive and respect. Some readers think her unworthy of Clay because she takes too long to understand him and her acceptance at some point almost feels like a duty. I too felt a bit like that, but she acted as the alpha in this relationship, which was fun to watch. In a way, comparing them makes Clay even more special. I liked meg changed her mind, she realized Clay is not the gossip others talked about him, he's a person with feelings and for her to have an opinion, she had to know who he was. Their relationship was slow paced but cute and I really wanted things to work out for them.
I think the author used the right amounts of angst and sweetness in this story. I also think some situations could have been explored slightly better, or in ways that would display emotions a bit better. But all things considered, this was a great and romantic story, that showed how people can change their minds and forgive and how we should be truthful to ourselves, have a clean conscience and believe in those we love or care about.
I really liked this book. It's one of those stories that warms up our hearts and to be honest I don't know what else to say besides how much I liked it and how every romance reader should spend time with it. So... go out and read it.