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Ashes in the Wind

Ashes in the Wind

My all-time favorite romance novel is a Civil War era bodice ripper called Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.  Because I desperately needed a palate cleanser after subjecting myself to the awful Fifty Shades of Grey I picked up my tattered copy and had a reread.

Ashes in the Wind, much to my pleasant surprise, is delightfully literary (keeping in mind that the last two books I’ve read were Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey).  I enjoyed my reread not only because of nostalgia, but because Ashes is actually a pretty good book.  

In the pre-Internet era, I never found out much about the elusive author Kathleen Woodiwiss.  She was never in the public eye like Danielle Steele or Jackie Collins, although Wikipedia informs me that she’s considered a much more important writer in the genre.  Some have even said that Kathleen Woodiwiss singlehandedly created the modern historical romance novel – that before she came along romance novels targeted at women were very chaste, even prudish.  Descriptions of sexual situations were reserved for books targeted at men and were decidedly not romanticized.  Kathleen Woodiwiss came along at just the right point in time – her novels were borne of the sexual revolution and as women felt more free to embrace their own sensual sides, the popularity of romance novels skyrocketed.

Regardless of whether all that is fully true, the fact is the chick could write. Ashes is 664 pages of character development, historical detail, and descriptions that are frankly amazing.  Ashes in the Wind may not be a well known or critically acclaimed novel, but it is a master class in writing description. 

Reading Ashes in the Wind is like taking a luxurious bubble bath in adjectives. 

Twilight:  It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect cloudless blue.

Ok.

Fifty Shades of Grey: It’s a huge twenty story office building, all curved glass and steel, an architect’s utilitarian fantasy, with GREY HOUSE written discreetly in steel over the glass front doors.

Mm-hm.

Ashes in the Wind: A brownish haze hung over the city and the humid air pressed the sweltering heat down upon the detachment of blue-clad soldiers waiting on the dock for the arrival of the sidewheeler.  Its once-bright trim of red and green now faded and chipped, the steamboat resembled some lumbering beast grown gray with age as it threshed toward them with towering black horns spouting smoke and flame.  It wallowed ever closer until it cautiously nudged against the low quay where the Mississippi touched the port city. Great hawsers snaked out like giant feelers, and pulleys and blocks creaked above the shouts of laborers as the vessel shouldered closer against the jetty.

664 pages of that.

The characterizations are equally thorough.  The spunky, courageous, hardworking Confederate Alaina MacGaren and the gruff-yet-caring, honorable Yankee Dr. Cole Latimer come to life on the pages – well, at least more than Edward and Bella do.  Alaina and Cole are three-dimensional; flawed, yet lovable. Their actions and motivations are understandable, relatable. Even when they do things that are a little bit horrifying (Cole, I’m looking at you here) I like them.  Unlike Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, there was never a moment where I wondered “What do these people even see in each other?  What’s the appeal here?”  It makes for a superior romance experience when the characters involved, are, in fact, at least somewhat appealing.

If it wasn’t for the plot, which is largely dumb and involves a lot of misunderstandings, mistaken identities, accidental marriages, villainous machinations, various throbbing and inflamed body parts, and a disturbing undercurrent of rapeyness that all the romance novels of the era seem to contain, Ashes in the Wind could be an actual, even respectable book.

But set all that aside.  None of that was the interesting part of Ashes for me here in 2019.  The fundamental question of Ashes in the Wind feels tailor-made for the times in which we live. 

Can two people set aside their differences – up to and including being on opposite sides of a civil war – and under the twin influences of their hormones and their hearts, live happily ever after?  

This is, of course, a recurring theme in romantic literature.  People who are from two totally different worlds falling head over heels in love. Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Cathy, Paula Abdul and this weird anthropormorphic catlike creature.

 

It may not be 1863, but we live in a strange and divided nation, a nation in which once-highly-respected magazines like Time and erstwhile American institution Harper’s Bazaar have no compunction about running thinkpieces encouraging people to break up otherwise loving relationships over politics. Yet in the pages of Ashes in the Wind, Cole and Alaina are able set their differences aside – differences so great that they led to an Actual Civil War – and find love.

Is that possible here in 2019?  Or is it a pipe dream? Is it a romantic fantasy just like Ashes in the Wind is a romantic fantasy?

On the one hand, I, friend to both conservatives and liberals alike, would like to believe that love conquers all and that there is, in the words of Tod Kelly, “infinitely more that binds us together than separates us.” I would really like to believe that there are fundamental, essential, universal things that two human beings can share betwixt them that supercede politics and superficial mostly-aesthetic cultural differences.

But I’m not sure I do any more.  I’m just not sure I believe that principle, no matter how much I’d like to.  With apologies to Tod, I am starting to think that more separates us than binds us together.

Maybe it once was possible for people of wildly disparate backgrounds to set their differences aside and live happily ever after.  But the gulf has grown too wide, I fear. Even without diving into the briar patch that is politics, those superficial aesthetic cultural differences are legion – virtually infinite, it feels like sometimes.  Every day I wake up and read about how some formerly benign and apolitical thing that I had thought everyone universally liked, is actually problematic and imbued with all this meaning that I never even knew was there.  There is no safe quarter.  Everything matters.  It may not be an Actual Civil War (yet) but this cold civil war we’re playing at has permeated every aspect of life.

That wasn’t the case in 1863.  Alaina and Cole may have disagreed on some pretty major issues, like secession and states’ rights, but in the end they were able to  set aside the fact that he was a bluebellied Yankee snake and she was a duplicitous Rebel at least in part because they had tons of other things in common to connect them. They probably ate mostly the same foods, wore mostly the same types of clothing, believed in the same God, read the same books, used the same definition of the words “man” and “woman” and very likely had similar expectations about their gender roles within a marriage.

Cole and Alaina were able to make a relationship work because (in addition to being fictional characters – which always helps) despite having serious political differences, they had few cultural differences.  Most people in 1863 – rich, poor, city, country, Union, Confederate, Gray, Blue – lived pretty similar lives. The hardness of the environment in which they lived dictated it.  No one was debating the ethics of eating sea bass over dinner because there was naught but salt pork on the menu and everyone was too busy hoping not to die of yellow fever that week.

People on different sides of the political aisle nowadays come from entirely different cultures with entirely different worldviews and as such they differ wildly on just about everything – the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the God the worship or lack thereof, the entertainment they prefer, how to bring up children, gender issues, sexuality.  We even disagree about what it means to be human.  There’s little two people can just take for granted in a modern romantic relationship, no issue upon which they could be fairly sure they were simpatico.  Nothing is a given.  There’s no foundation of universal agreement to build upon.  We may as well be speaking different languages and living on different planets. Not Mars and Venus, either; we’re talking Mercury and Pluto here. Every seemingly meaningless decision that a person makes over the course of the day, week, month, year would be open for debate.  Every choice, every preference, every word that spills from one’s lips would be parsed, analyzed, and dissected.

Where there’s room for debate, there will be disagreement, and disagreement quickly devolves into passing judgement.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone who is a nitpicker, a fault-finder, a grudge holder, you would likely agree that it is not so much fun.  It’s very difficult to live in another person’s crosshairs 24-7, especially when that person is the person who’s supposed to love you, and stuff. It often happens that when a relationship becomes strained (and what relationship doesn’t experience strain at times?) that a judgmental person sets up a hypercritical narrative about their partner and watches everything the other party does in search of support for that narrative. Nothing is off limits, everything is fair game, every moment of every day is up for scrutiny. Any moment of inattention or irritation, every shortcoming, each innocent mistake is put into the Permanent File as evidence of laziness, weakness, lack of commitment, perfidy. Every choice you make and every action you take, even the most microscopic, is like handling a series of live grenades; you never know which one of them is going to go off in your face.  It’s not an easy way to live and it’s not conducive to happily ever after.

I imagine that’s what it would be like to be in love with someone from the opposite side of the political aisle in 2019.  We have already set up our narratives and most of us fully buy into them.  We don’t understand each other and a pretty large number of people don’t WANT to understand each other.  We prefer to find evidence to support our narratives instead.  We see only good guys and bad guys, angels and demons, monsters and saints, the entirely innocent and the thoroughly despised. I can imagine that in this cross-political relationship we’re envisioning, those narratives about heroes and villains would continue running unabated beneath the surface, too deeply ingrained to easily set aside.  Like one of those annoying Stephen-Hawking-themed popup ads that you discover lurking underneath your Internet browser, the narratives hide in our subconscious and whisper their poisonous messages nonstop. “Not like you,” they say. “You deserve better.” There might be wine and roses and chocolates and sweet talk and hot sex at first but those things are temporary, fleeting.  

Cole Latimer, Yankee Snake, was able to fall in love with Alaina MacGaren, Duplicitous Rebel, because he didn’t really think she was his enemy way down deep inside.  And Alaina, despite definitely not being a fan of Yankees at the start of the story, learned over the course of the book that Yankees were people just like she was and that they were just as much victims of circumstance as her beloved Confederates…some of whom weren’t exactly angels themselves (and kudos on that well-drawn character transformation, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, I doff my hat to you.)  In the end, it wasn’t only their underlying cultural similarities that brought Cole and Alaina together despite their political differences. It was the fact that neither of them – Cole, from the beginning, and Alaina, over the course of time, saw each other as an irredeemably evil monster, but as a flawed human being shaped by circumstances beyond their control. They looked beyond what they were, to who they were, and that made the difference.

Mutual understanding and forgiveness.  That’s fertile ground.  That’s the soil in which the seeds of love can grow,even blossom.

As for the 2019 versions of Alaina and Cole, I don’t know.  I still want to believe that love can conquer all obstacles not only in the pages of a historical romance novel, but in the real world. But the path forward for star-crossed lovers in this troubled time is a rocky one, I’m afraid.  

The Earth’s been salted.  We’re bitter and furious. We modern and non-fictional folk seem to be in quite a rush to huddle up, split off, choose sides, segregate, isolate, build walls and damn each other forever.  We see ourselves as breeds apart and a good many of us take delight in the difference.  Any and every way we can further separate our side from “those people”, we embrace it. The things we like, the things we hate, the things we desire from life, the things we want and need from each other.  We are not like THEM and we’ll prove it any way we possibly can, even if it means turning away from true love.

 


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Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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84 thoughts on “Ashes in the Wind

    • Wow, thanks for the heads up. I was completely unaware!

      They so rarely let me out without my keepers I miss these things.

      Seriously though, it’s a problematic book. Acknowledged. What can we learn from it, if anything? Anything in there worthy of rumination or discussion? I thought that maybe there was.

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    • Its interesting how we view history.

      I can view the Roman Empire or Elizabethan England with detached indifference, and enjoy romances and dramas set in those periods without feeling the need to pass judgement on their respective horrors and injustices.
      And once upon a time, I could do the same for the Confederacy.

      But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the Confederacy isn’t even a part of our past. Its still here with us, living and breathing. I’ve met too many people who earnestly support it, or whitewash it, or embrace its underlying meaning and worldview.

      It still has a menace to it, and still needs constant active opposition. So yeah, Treason In Defense Of Slavery it is.

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      • No, most of the remnants of the Confederacy died back in the early 2000’s when the South finally went solidly for Lincoln’s party. Sure, you have a few hold-outs, like the current (as of noon today) governor of Virginia, sitting there in Richmond, probably at Jefferson Davis’s old desk, but not since 2016 has his party fielded a presidential candidate that praised the nobility of a Grand Kleagle. Assuming they don’t do that again in 2020, I think we can finally write the Confederacy off as dead.

        But who knows. Like the Roman empire, it could come back at any moment. That’s why I’m always on edge at Olive Garden, acutely aware that the servers could band together into a legion, bring out an eagle standard, and start slashing us all to pieces as they scream (in their ominous Italian accents) “Carthage delenda est!” Stay on guard. Always stay on guard.

        As for Union partriots, I enjoyed Rebels in Blue: The Story of Keith and Melinda Blalock. Not only were they a married couple who fought in the war, they are the only married couple who served in both armies. Both were wounded numerous times. Melinda got kicked out of the Confederate army after she got wounded skirmishing against Yankees and a doctor discovered that she had another underlying medical condition, incorrect plumbing. She ended up leading union cavalry, along with her husband.

        It’s not a romance, but it would make a great movie.

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        • Actually someone wrote a good historical fiction based, that’s also part ghost story, on the Blalocks.

          Ghost Riders

          It is a hauntingly good book that’s nearly a ballad. And it also explores the way the echoes of the Civil War still haunt the present.

          No movie version of it, but the audio won an Audie Award for Best Multi-voiced Narration.

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      • There are many posts on this site and others about how awful, horrible, unjust, disgusting, disturbing that period of American history is, and how the legacy of the Civil War still affects us today.

        Rightfully so.

        I read a book when I was twelve. I liked it at the time. I now know that there are many things in it that are gross and wrong. Obviously. Others have already talked about those issues at length, certainly far more eloquently than I ever could. Doesn’t make much sense for me to reinvent the wheel and discuss things that others have already discussed with more skill and knowledge than I have.

        IMO there are some other elements in this book are interesting, informative, worth of examination. Those things I can talk about. I have some insight there. It’s something unique I can bring to the site. Thus, I focus on what I can do rather than trying to imitate things everyone else is already doing or has done a million times already.

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    • I’ve always assumed that the Confederacy had an allure for American romance novelists because its the closest you can get to a landed nobility in the United States. This means that the daughter of a Plantation owner is about as close to a spirited noblewoman. There is the possibility of using the very wealthy families of the Gilded Age, something like the Vanderbilts, but those families never managed to etch themselves into the American imagination like the Plantation owners. It helps that a lot of romance writers appear to be Southern and had sympathies in a certain direction.

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  1. The technical term for the language used in this book is purple prose, overly elaborate language used to establish a sense of grandeur. It is not considered a good writing technique by most literary authors.

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      • I agree that the excerpt about the riverboat is not purple prose. It could be improved, according to the dictates of modern literary fashion, by being tightened up a bit. By way of example,

        It wallowed ever closer until it cautiously nudged against the low quay

        doesn’t really need that “cautiously” and would be better without it. This is some combination of the style of the era and the absence of aggressive editing.

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    • I was struck by the quote from Twilight:

      It was seventy-five degrees in Phoenix, the sky a perfect cloudless blue.

      That is good, economical writing. One shortish sentence and I have a vivid picture in my head of what the day was like. It probably helps that I have spent enough time in Phoenix that I contrast this day with many other, less congenial days. This sentence would not be so vivid if I had no experience with, or at least mental image of Phoenix when it is 110 degrees. But still, that is good writing. If I believed for a moment that it was typical of the book, I might seek it out.

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      • Presumably it’s a really deep blue, because it’s a half hour after sunrise if it’s only 75….

        But yeah, Meyer has better prose than James, who was basically a “Twilight” fanfic writer who won the lottery. And she doesn’t make basic mistakes like confusing the Vancouver north of Seattle with the Vancouver south of Seattle, as James notoriously did in “50 Shades”.

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      • I like words. I enjoy them. Reading them and using them is pretty much my fave thing ever. I know I should never admit such a thing but I sometimes find a sparse writing style less enjoyable and lust after excess adverbs. But mostly I was just having some fun there illustrating the difference in writing style between the three books.

        The Twilight books are not exactly Hemingway. I’d say more choppy and barely adequate much of the time. I do like them even though I have fun criticizing them sometimes. I like flowery writing too. Room in my world for both. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  2. After your assessment of 50 Shades, I was expecting you to write about the literary quality of a cigarette warning label.

    I don’t think I agree with you about politics and relationships. The percentage of ardent believers is pretty small. Many people vote 90% for a party that they 60% agree with. Many others don’t vote. The kind of witch-huntery that we see on Twitter has historically come and gone – social media may be making the current round more intense, but this kind of mentality is rarely sustainable.

    I’m a pretty political guy, but I could easily see myself marrying someone of a different party, or a different ideology. Not a different religion, though. And that’s what keeps me from rejecting your position completely. I suspect that a lot of what we see as political or cultural disagreement is really religious at heart, or so deeply philosophical that it functions as religious.

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    • I suspect that a lot of what we see as political or cultural disagreement is really religious at heart, or so deeply philosophical that it functions as religious.

      Good insight.

      Standing on the bones of the old religion, looking at the new, I sometimes wonder “we killed God for *THIS*?”

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    • I suspect that a lot of what we see as political or cultural disagreement is really religious at heart, or so deeply philosophical that it functions as religious.

      I have my own views on this topic, which I’d be very happy to argue with you once you post a front page essay elaborating on this topic. :)

      (More seriously, one thing that always perplexes me about (scare quotes) Our Current Conversation on these topics is that while liberal-types seem to be very upfront and clear about how they view this stuff conservatives believe they always have a “secret agenda” beyond the actual words they write, while conservatives often hold this stuff very close to their chests which inclines liberal-types to think they have a secret agenda. Rinse, repeat. Time to break that cycle. ))

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        • Well, my point was *supposed* to be that each side thinks the other has a secret agenda, and why that is, and how to break that cycle. If you think the opposite of that then tell me where I’m wrong in believing it’s the case.

          As a data-point, I remember (just like it was yesterday…) Tom Van Dyke telling the OT community that he didn’t need to be told how and why liberals view the world as they do since it’s in his face everyday. Yet here’s Pinky holding a view which sounds very interesting, especially coming from a trad-con*, and he’s obviously intelligent and articulate enough to present in a compelling and coherent way.

          *No offense meant!

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    • I’m like Mulder here – I want to believe. I really do. I’m a hopeless romantic, I like both conservatives and liberals (truly like, not just saying that) and I think very few differences are unbridgeable.

      But I feel like politics has permeated everything to such extent that it’s really gotten tough to get away from it. I suspect you and I are simpatico in viewing what many deem political differences as actually religious/philosophical in nature, hence the absolute dogmatism many ascribe to.

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      • I want to believe. I really do. I’m a hopeless romantic, I like both conservatives and liberals (truly like, not just saying that) and I think very few differences are unbridgeable.

        Do you think conservatives will ever accept me?

        I don’t think they will. Hating me seems fundamental to conservatism.

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        • I know you don’t need my acceptance but I do accept you.

          Conservatives are a large bloc of people who have all different viewpoints on many different subjects. Absolutely there’s some hatred, and unfortunately those are often the loudest mouths shouting. There’s more acceptance (and by far less hatred) than it seems.

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          • Fair enough, but this is more than cultural. It is also political, and in fact involves issues of law. It is the Republicans who actively seek to oppose laws that trans people need, and in fact who work to pass laws that can, in effect, make our lives unlivable.

            Why do the Republicans do this? What motivates them?

            I suspect it is because there is that much hate.

            In theory we can all just “get along,” but bigotry is more than a few rude jerks. It is a matter of large, politically powerful institutions trying to dehumanize and destroy us.

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    • I didn’t mean anything too profound or provocative, really. I guess I was referring to two things, one personal and one general. The former is that I’ve never really been able to grasp the distinction people make between theology and philosophy. I’ve rarely been reading something and seen it as 100% in one category or the other. I can sometimes grasp what people mean by one or the other, but if I look too hard, it ends up blurring. The second thing I was considering is that I can’t understand how someone could be a Catholic and a Democrat, and I’m fully aware that some Catholic Democrats would have the mirror image thought.

      As for Stillwater and Kristin’s exchange, I think there’s always a problem online that’s one of those fallacies of composition. I can’t explain it well, but I can give an example. In the abortion debate, there are plenty of people who are generally pro-choice with restrictions, pro-life with exceptions. They’d be open to legislation they consider reasonable. There are people who would support legislation that would advance one side of the agenda because they want to see things move more in one direction or the other. And there are people who would support legislation as a first step toward 100% victory. It’s nearly impossible to tell which sort of person you’re talking to online – the individual himself may not even know which category he fits it best. And it’s nearly impossible to carry on an open forum discussion without talking to people from all those categories.

      The net effect is that They seem to be talking out of both sides of their mouths. Do They want Obamacare in bad faith, knowing that it’ll blow up and we’ll end up with single payer? A couple of them do. Some of them want Obamacare, some of them want single-payer but will settle for Obamacare because they think it’ll work, and some of them just want something different and don’t trust the Republicans. Do They really want to close the gun show loophole because they know it’ll lead to gun registries and eventual confiscation? Do They really support voter ID’s because they’re racist, and do the other Theys really oppose voter ID’s because they like voter fraud?

      For my part, I’m going to assume that my most banal statements are provocative because of the genius of the writer, not that of the reader.

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  3. I think SO people can see past the things that divide us. Some cannot or will not. That’s fine. Just as there are some women who are attractive to me but have a personality that would have me run screaming to “break up city”, there are many variables that make compatibility difficult.

    Folks who tend to live in a political bubble and don’t get out much from it usually are the worst for compatibility. They think everyone thinks like themselves and has the same views, unless they live in “reprobate land” like the rural states or Texas. It’s the same reason some political victories come as a surprise to journalists and tv news reporters…they live in that bubble.

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    • You’re right, there are many variables that come into play and most of the people on earth are not the type of people who are like “Stop eating quinoa for Jesus”.

      I hope anyway. It would be nice if that world was the real world and not the online world.

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      • okay, that phrase made me laugh because back in the 80s it was somewhat common among my peers when discussing politics to explain our positions by saying “I’m a Republican, but not a ‘Kill the gay baby whales for Jesus’ Republican.”

        I think on the whole most people can get along with, even fall in love with, people from different cultural or political backgrounds. Pinky said he couldn’t imagine marrying someone from a different religion, but I did just that and have been quite happy with him for almost 30 years now. I main thing, imo, is that you share the same values. We can have different ideas of who God is, or what God looks like, but we agree 90% of the time on what it means to love and serve God, and be a good person.

        So, in terms of your romance here, I could see a Yankee and Confederate falling in love. But not a serious Abolitionist falling for a hardcore pro-slavery Confederate who insisted that blacks weren’t even fully human. I think that’s the political today divide too. I can be friends with someone who’s anti-abortion, but not someone so anti-abortion that they insist it’s better to let women die if there’s any chance at all that the fetus could live. And if you cry a river over ‘murdered babies’ but think giving poor kids access to healthcare is some evil godless socialist plot, well…. we can probably talk amiably about dogs or the weather, but that’s not someone I’m generally going to look for reasons to hang out with.

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  4. ” Most people in 1863 – rich, poor, city, country, Union, Confederate, Gray, Blue – lived pretty similar lives.”

    See, I just don’t think that’s true. Even setting aside the things you decided to set aside for this piece (a choice I disagree with profoundly, and I would have been a lot *more* interested in a piece where you struggled with those things in the context of what is also good about the book, which isn’t to say I’m not interested in this one, ’cause I am)…. even setting them aside, or rather pretending to ’cause for me I can’t just set them aside, I just don’t think it’s true.

    I can look back to my own ancestors who were living at that time and their lives were, from as objective and historical a viewpoint as I can muster, of very different difficulty levels. Even say, “their lives were of very different difficulty levels,” *within couples* and yet they found ways to love each other and be with each other (as far as I can objectively tell) across that very sharp divide.

    Well, I mean, some of them did. Some of them suffered greatly at the hands of each other, since spousal abuse and other forms of violence were as endemic in my family as they were continent-wide around the time of the Civil War. Maybe a titch more so, even.

    But some of them came from lives that had very very different arcs, very very different safety levels, and yet they appear to have figured stuff out.

    I don’t think it’s so simple as a lost thing we don’t have now, that people did have then, because things are easier now or we’re less humane or less able to see others as like us (even within the limited scope of others that you included for this piece). I don’t think *you* necessarily think any of that either, but it’s hard not to get that impression from reading this piece.

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    • This isn’t a disagreement at all but merely a quote that I happened to stumble across immediately after writing my comment, that it seems you and other long-married folks on this site might find as interesting as I do:

      “The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet”

      Part of me is like PREACH IT DUDE EXACTLY and part of me is like “marriage is for looking after people and this is the most individualist anti-child-raising thing I have ever read”.

      But most of me is the first thing and also doesn’t think it’s necessarily anti-child-raising at all – who more than a parent needs a trustworthy guardian of their solitude?

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  5. Kristin —

    If you’re taking requests … I’d much enjoy your take on THE HUNGER GAMES and Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT series. And, if your interests swing that way, Susan George’s Inspector Lynley & Barbara Havers mysteries.

    Much grass!

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