Love and War is the second in a trilogy weighing in at 1,000+ pages and continues the story of the Hazard and Main family through the U.S. Civil War, as the South secedes from the Union and a nation is torn in two. At Mont Royal, as elsewhere in the south, the slaves are restless and rebellious, making the plantation difficult to manage. Orry’s wound keeps him from the battlefield, but he answers the call of duty taking a desk job in Richmond. Orry’s scheming sister Ashton also lives in Richmond with her husband James and she and her lover successfully dabble in smuggling luxury goods. Up north George accepts a desk job in Washington, as does his scheming brother Stanley who is making a mint selling defective shoes to the army. The evil Elkanah Bent continues his mad obsession with the Hazards and Mains, and he also holds possession of Madeline’s big secret.
The good – Jakes does a good job with George and Orry as they struggle to retain their friendship when their worlds collide as well as the corruption in government as almost everyone strives to profit off the war. I liked seeing the “not in my backyard” attitude of the North as they must see the slaves freed yet they just want to ship them back off to Africa. I loved Orry and Madeline’s relationship, although considering the size and scope of this book you aren’t going to see as much of them as you might expect. Ashton of course is delightfully nasty as the bad girl you just love to hate.
The not so good – Jakes has a habit of writing stereo-typed characters, especially the bad guys. Good Southerners are kind to their slaves, the baddies beat them. Bad Northerners hate the blacks as much as they want them freed. Elkanah Bent is just too OTT with his obsession for revenge, I’d have preferred seeing him bumped off and bringing in a new bad guy. It’s a big country and a big army and his coincidental meetings really began to stretch credulity. A lot of that I can live with, but the ultimate problem with this book is Jakes just had to throw everything into this one, including the kitchen sink. There are too many characters and too much historical territory to cover in one book and Jakes ends up jumping from one person to the next trying to cover it all. Cut half the book out, shift the main focus to George & Constance and Orry & Madeline with very brief mentions of the secondary characters (I love Charles but he should have been left on the cutting room floor) and Jakes might have had a winner here. As it was, I only finished by skimming a great deal, easily one-third of the entire book. A big thumbs down to the editor for not paying attention to continuity between the two books. A very big deal was made in book one about Orry’s beard and most especially in scenes between he and Madeline, yet in book two Orry asks her how she’d feel if he grew a beard. Hellooooo?
I haven’t seen the mini-series in years (going to rectify that soon), but from checking out the many videos up on YouTube I was surprised at how different the series is from the books. Elkanah Bent was from the North (and very obese), Ashton’s lover is another character entirely. Orry and George were never generals. Brett didn’t spend the war years at Mont Royal, but with her husband’s family in the North. Matter of fact, neither did Madeline or Ashton, they were in Richmond with their husbands. You won’t even find these big scenes in the book,
From what I’ve gathered, the ending was changed because originally there weren’t plans to film book three and they thought it best to end it this way instead of as Jakes wrote it – and most of you will not like it. I’ve spoiled myself by picking up on the gist of it and I will definitely pass – at least on the book. 2.5/3 stars.
FTC? Library loot.