The Flames Took So Much.
She Can’t Lose Her Father As Well.
Meg Townsend and her sister, Sylvie, seek a quiet existence managing the family bookshop. Meg feels responsible for caring for their father, Stephen, whose spirit and health are both damaged from his time as a prisoner during the Civil War. Her one escape is the paintings she creates and sells in the bookshop.
Then the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district. The fiery explosions and chaos stir up memories of war for Stephen as he runs from the blaze and becomes separated from his daughters. Days later, when the smoke has cleared, Meg and Sylvie manage to reunite with him. Their home and shop are lost, and what’s left among the ashes may be even more threatening than the flames, for they learn that a close friend was murdered the night of the fire–and Stephen has been charged with the crime. After he is committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum, where they cannot visit him, Stephen feels as lost to them as the shop that now lies in rubble.
Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life but prove the truth of what happened that night, before the asylum truly drives her father mad.
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the author and the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own.
The Civil War might’ve ended in 1865, but its impact was felt long after.
In 1871, Civil War veterans and their families were still dealing with the ravages of war on the human psyche. What we might recognize today as PTSD was then observed merely as insanity. In many cases, the easiest answer was to lock the sufferers in insane asylums and highly medicate them. That is the fear Meg and Sylvie have for their father, a former prisoner of the notorious Andersonville, in Jocelyn Green’s new novel.
Veiled in Smoke starts 10 days before the Great Fire. These chapters introduce the major players of the piece and describes their lives in the Windy City. I read these passages with a sense of foreboding. I knew these places and people would be irreparably changed by the flames. The older men were of frail mind, while one of the younger men was full of guilt because he couldn’t serve. The hardships each person had faced leading up to the fire shaped them into the beings they’d become by October 1871. When the fire finally arrives, I also felt their despair and urgency as they attempted to escape the flames.
The fire is obviously the focus of this first book in the Windy City Saga, but it’s so much more than that. This is a novel about the plight of the veteran, and their families. While Stephen survived Andersonville, his friend was a prison camp guard in the north. During the novel, we meet veterans missing limbs, Confederate soldiers who took an oath to the Union and were then disowned by family, and men locked away for having PTSD. As a military wife, Green “gets it” and portrays each character in a sympathetic light. This then, is not only the story of a city being rebuilt but of man’s attempt to rebuild his/herself. And, because this is a Christian fiction novel, we see how trust and faith in God can assist with that. As one character says to another: “Your refinement comes not from charm school or polite society, but from coming through the fire.” The fire is the testing placed on us all.
Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King; Wedded to War; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, strawberry rhubarb pie, the color red, and reading with a cup of tea. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Jocelyn Green’s Website https://www.jocelyngreen.com/
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 04 February 2020