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It is 1864, and although the Civil War has claimed her entire family, Southerner Ellen Bidwell will not let it take her last remaining love, her betrothed, Andrew. Day after day, she and her surviving neighbors search desolate, blood scorched war fields in hopes of finding their loved ones.
Living each day with the awful agony of not knowing whether Andrew is alive or not, Ellen vows to save others from that pain. Alone, armed only with her determination and inner strength, she carefully goes through the belongings of the dead soldiers, both Union and Confederate. Once she finds their identifications, she writes their families of their deaths. On one such excursion, Ellen meets Captain Brian McNamara, a Union soldier. Surprisingly, he offers his assistance and that of some of his men to help her. Though she knows she is engaged to Andrew, Ellen is attracted to the kind captain.
While working on the letters to the families in the Union encampment, Ellen finds Andrew in the camp hospital. Though surrounded by enemy soldiers, Ellen attempts to rescue Andrew. Before they can make it to safety, Captain McNamara discovers them. Instead of killing them both, the captain arranges their escape. As a sign of gratitude, Ellen gives him the title to her land.
In a sense, the rescue is pointless because despite his injury, Andrew soon returns to the war. Ellen and her neighbors bury him a few days later.
A couple of years afterward, Brian McNamara begins to build a house on the land Ellen gave him. Ellen is shocked but pleased. She has never forgotten him.
In A Simple Choice, Catherine Snodgrass vividly describes the lives of those who could do nothing but wait and pray during the Civil War. Her plot is compelling and real, and the character development is superb. The writing is so clear and precise it is as though Catherine Snodgrass is a time traveler, capable of visiting another time while still able to live in ours. As I read the story, I could literally feel the pain and despair caused by the great little war.
Ellen is an admirable heroine of exceptional grace and courage, and Captain McNamara is equally praiseworthy. When he admitted to killing one of his own men to save his brother, who is fighting on the Confederate side, and says it was a simple choice my heart melted. This short narrative is packed with heart wrenching scenes.
I had no choice but to give it 5 roses! Simply put, this is a wonderful tale! It is without a doubt, one of the best historical romances I have ever read.