Posted in Historical

Tracey Groot’s The Sentinels of Andersonville

Near the end of the Civil War, inhumane conditions at Andersonville Prison caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only one year. In this gripping and affecting novel, three young Confederates and an entire town come face-to-face with the prison’s atrocities and will learn the cost of compassion, when withheld and when given.

Sentry Dance Pickett has watched, helpless, for months as conditions in the camp worsen by the day. He knows any mercy will be seen as treason. Southern belle Violet Stiles cannot believe the good folk of Americus would knowingly condone such barbarism, despite the losses they’ve suffered. When her goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, however, she realizes she must tread carefully. Confederate corporal Emery Jones didn’t expect to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier’s wit and integrity strike a chord in Emery. How could this man be an enemy? Emery vows that their unlikely friendship will survive the war—little knowing what that promise will cost him.

As these three young Rebels cross paths, Emery leads Dance and Violet to a daring act that could hang them for treason. Wrestling with God’s harsh truth, they must decide, once and for all, Who is my neighbor?


Let me start of by saying that I love all things Civil War. I’ve been to battle sites, I’ve toured plantation homes, I watch every new documentary on the history/military channel, I read all kinds of books on it, etc. So naturally when I heard about this book I had to read it. And it was so worth it! I’ve read a lot of Civil War novels, but only a few to me, really do the era any justice and this is one of them. Was this novel completely, historically accurate? No. Did the author take a few liberties? Yes. Did that bother me? Not at all. She managed to shine a light on a place that most people don’t even realize ever existed. Without further ado:
What I liked:
-Andersonville is a tragedy. And Ms. Groot does a beautiful job of showing how it has affected so many people. It reaches far and affects more than those who were suffering in the prison. Yet, this novel has some of the funniest lines I’ve ever read in a book. Though the novel is at times heavy, it doesn’t stay that way all the time.
-The characters were so well-developed. And as soon as I met them, I cared about them. There’s Violet (the way she was described stayed with me for days), Dance (love his name), Emery (such a big heart), Lew (my heart went out to him) and let’s not forget Posey.
-Friendship. I’m rarely pulled into a novel because of friendship, but a war novel is not a good war novel if it lacks friendship. And I became invested in this friendship.
-The romance was subtle, slow, but still very sweet.
-I learned about a different kind of soldier. The sentinel.
-Spiritually, the novel is not very overtly spiritual, but there is this beautiful message that you need to just be the Good Samaritan. Stop waiting for others to act.
What I didn’t like:
-I will admit that it’s not all flash and bang, and sometimes slow in parts. But to me, this added more credibility to the story. Things moved slowly back then.
Overall, a wonderful book. Deep and moving. And you will laugh out loud.
Romantic Scale: 7.5

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