Waxing Nostalgic 15 It has been awhile since I have revised one of my youthful favs Sometimes I think the books may have been better remembered in my past I wanted Susannah to be recognized by her family for the sacrifices she was making for them in the war They seemed awfully ungrateful I wanted there to be of a courtship between she and her beaus How does she know she loves them These are all questions that 16 year old girls do not ask Oh well, these books are such great diversions. This is my favorite book out of these Sunfire romances I ve read it about 10 times I saved them all these years for my daughters, and Im glad I did, since they are now out of print. The South That Raised Her Was At War, While Susannah S Own Battle Raged In Her HeartSusannah Had Lived Her Sixteen Years As A Proper Virginia Girl Obedient, Dreaming Of Marriage, Leaving The Decisions To The Men But When Her Brother And Her Fiance Are Called On To Defend The South, Susannah Takes The First Daring Steps Of Rebellion Against The Old Rules She Must Fight For Her Own Life, For Her Family, And For The Secret Love Born In The Flames Of War Yet another cheesy Sunfire novel this should be the last one for awhile Susannah is about a girl growing up in Virginia during the Civil War Little by little her world falls apart, and she finds herself having to be the leader in her family Along the way, she meets a Yankee soldier with whom she falls in love There is truly nothing better than forbidden romance.I feel like Susannah gives a fairly good portrayal of how devastating the Civil War was for the South It was pretty heart breaking to read about the family being unable to buy enough food, and the Confederate Army coming along and taking their last horse I sort of feel like this book is Gone with the Wind lite, as a lot of the same types of characters show up Susannah isn t nearly as sassy as Scarlett O Hara though, and probably not as selfish.I, like other reviewers, was surprised at the lack of mention of slavery In the beginning of the novel, when the author first mentions the family s servants, I was like, Wait, are they not slaves Then later Susannah helps one of the slaves run away But other than that, there really is no discussion of slavery, which is surprising for a book that was written in 1984.Also, I did feel like the romance between Susannah and her Yankee soldier was a little far fetched I didn t feel like they had even spent that much time together before she was declaring that she was in love with him And yes, I can appreciate that she is 16 years old, but really Overall, I did enjoy the book It was entertaining enough. The bond between the hero heroine was set up on tenuous footing, but the entire jist of the novel was the unpredictable and upending nature of war, where the strangest things are made possible The character of Susannah is far like a hybrid of Scarlett O Hara with an emphasis to the inner steel of Melanie Hamilton She s a strong and resourceful heroine, a lot like Emily in Ransom s other Sunfire.As has been noted by others, the blind eye towards slavery was irksome and dishonest However, it wasn t as historically obnoxious as Schurfranz s Danielle , where the heroine s sugar cane plantation is worked by free men paid livable wages Both books dodge the issue of America s dark history, and it was disappointing that it happened in Ransom s book because she is the far better writer.The transformation of typical belle Garnet was a nice character arc and something Ransom did extremely well, as she doesn t shrink from the issue of death.For all that, I still enjoyed the book and the gradual decline and desperation of the South was illustrated quite well. Rereading my way through the Sunfire series, in publication order Three years into the Civil War, Susannah Dellinger is yearning for the good old days, when there were picnics and balls and attentions from her handsome neighbor, Evan Jones But those days are gone Evan and her brother are off fighting for the Confederacy and she waits at home on her Virginia plantation, watching everything crumble around her It s hard not to draw comparisons between SUSANNAH and GONE WITH THE WIND, at least in the broad strokes Spoiled Southern belle forced to grow up and take charge when the war threatens her beloved family plantation Despite the objections of a whiny younger sibling, she gets the whole family to pitch in working in the field When her childhood love a proper, wistful Southern gentleman returns to visit, he s saddened by the hardening of her character She meets her match in a spirited, outspoken man In the writing, though, there s something sweeter about SUSANNAH, a fine tuned loss of innocence Does Susannah truly love Evan or does she love the lost antebellum world they both knew Does she love Caine, the Yankee solider she s taken to meet in secret, or does she love the uncertainty and newness of her future after the war There were things I didn t care for in some of the characters Evan s persistent complaints about Susannah s disappearing ladylikeness, for one but many seemingly stock characters had surprises of their own. Back in, like, 6th grade or something, I read the first Sunfire teen romance, Amanda, which was about a girl on the wagon train going west I liked it a lot and reread it occasionally So I was excited to find this one at the library booksale a few years ago, and finally got around to reading it In this one, Susannah is a young woman on a plantation in Virginia during the Civil War She has a beau, her brother s best friend, who s enlisted in the Confederate army But she keeps encountering a Union soldier, who s with the occupying forces in her town, has beautiful eyes, is very kind and thoughtful, and treats her like an equal instead of a child So, of course, she falls in love with him The historical details were all pretty accurate, and showed the hardships endured by civilians throughout the war, though it was fairly southern sympathizing. I devoured much of the Sunfire historical romance series in 5th and 6th grade That is, I read scores of them, but I think I did a bit of skimming The formula was always the same two young men both handsome oh my Whom will she choose 6th grade me lapped that stuff up I interviewed Candice F Ransom for an I Search children of the 80 s, who remembers I Search projects career paper At the time, I wanted to be a writer I still do, actually Well, I am one, I suppose I don t recall Ms Ransom telling me in that interview how hard it is to make a solid living at the trade, however. Wow, this was a fun little trip down memory lane I first read this when it was released, I was 10 I don t even know how many times I read it then but it had to be at least eight There was one unmemorable re read about 10 years ago, and now recently I picked it up again fresh off a viewing of Ken Burns The Civil War I m a bit of a Civil War buff and so that is what drives my very high rating of this book Some of the dialogue is cheesy, the plot developments contrived, the romance is really hard to put my finger on, they bicker a lot and yet they seem to really care for each other so it was easy to root for them The descriptions of things like making homespun fabric, curing meat for preservation, the cooking, turning dresses, combined with the hazards of living in the midst of a war zone almost make this an educational tome cleverly disguised as a teen romance but the characters are all likable and very easy to identify with, particulary Susannah who is alternately daring, resourceful, compassionate, and just flawed enough to keep her interesting This isn t bestselling Oprah lit or anything and is really nothing like Gone With the Wind despite the image on the back cover , but as a harmless piece of young adult brain candy is succeeds on many levels, the highest of which is entertainment and a certain wistfulness when the story ends I m seeking out other volumes in this series which is now sadly out of print but like when I read these 25 years ago , I suspect this will be my favorite in the series and that is why I have to give it such high marks. I will admit up front that I keep going back and forth on my opinion of this book, so if this review seems disjointed, that would be why I loved this one when I was a kid, and looked forward to it during the Sunfire Re Read I actually remembered a few bits from the plot.Unfortunately, some things about this book bothered me as an adult Susannah Dellinger turns 16 in 1864, and has nothing to look forward to except the end of the Civil War Her family lives on a plantation outside of Winchester, Virginia, a city that changed hands several times during the war They re running out of money and food and all but four slaves have been freed or have left Make that three slaves, after Susannah helps her childhood playmate Katie escape to freedom Susannah s brother and sweetheart are off fighting for the Confederacy, though they seem to make it home for brief visits fairly often Evan Jones is dismayed and with each visit, disillusioned with the losing South and an increasingly less ladylike Susannah Daddy soon drops dead, Susannah finds out they ve got no money, and the corn crop never panned out Then the newly harvested wheat crop gets destroyed by rain The South is losing There is no food, and the army stole their animals Oh, crap.Our girl has run into Caine Harding, Union soldier, on several occasions, and it s obvious that he likes her Susannah thinks about him often than she would like to Eventually, their attraction develops into a clandestine semi romance, with Caine giving Susannah much needed food, much sought after news, and a much appreciated here, Yankees, use this house as a headquarters instead of burning it down In return, Susannah basically just gives Caine grief for being a Yankee But the South s defeat is inevitable, and Susannah and her family will have to flee.Yes, I do realize that this is a mere teen romance, but any story about a Southern girl on a plantation during the Civil War is going to draw comparisons to the Big Kahuna I m not needlessly carping, folks It s difficult to form original characters when you ve got such iconic ones as those fromGone With the Windrattling around in your brain Susannah steps up and takes charge after her father dies, and after this point, many of her interactions with whiny younger sister Patricia are reminiscent of Scarlett O Hara screaming at lazy sis Suellen The genteel mother who is the pinnacle of womanly behavior is basically an Ellen O Hara who gets to live through the book Evan Jones is a brooding scion of the old South who regards the end of the era with gloomy depression Ashley Wilkes, anyone Are these characters so entrenched and universal that they re now archetypes I don t know, but the similarities were jarring, and the back cover art, in which a Scarlett looking woman flees a burning Tara looking plantation, doesn t help a bit.I did enjoy the character arc of Garnet Jones, Evan s useless, dingy sister who clings to her simpering Southern belle ways until tragedy jolts her back into reality Yes, she s annoying, but she s so clearly in denial that you feel sorry for the poor thing She s kind of conveniently disposed of towards the end of the story, so that Susannah doesn t have to be responsible for her any, which was fairly disappointing The descriptions of Virginia, the war, the deprivation it was all riveting and seemed quite accurate and well done Susannah herself is a strong character, and despite the slight Scarlett ness of it all, I liked that she knew how to raise her voice and push to get things done So many Sunfire heroines are annoyingly passive, but Susannah takes firm charge of her fate.The major issue I have to take with this story is the not altogether convincing romantic relationship between Caine and Susannah They have no opportunity in which to get to know each other, no major personal interactions, and it seems like Susannah spends half the novel pissed off at him So at what point am I supposed to sign up for their fan club Ultimately, the attraction seems mostly superficial And their idealogical differences are swept neatly under the rug He was on the opposite side of the battle in which her brother and Evan were killed That s a big deal Except she decides it s not Because he didn t personally shoot them Or something A historical quibble Susannah grew up on a plantation in Virginia They had slaves She knew they were slaves, and would have referred to them as slaves Not servants The black characters are servants up until Susannah helps Katie escape Then Katie is referred to as a slave But only Katie Susannah s father freed his slaves in his will, and after that, the ones who chose to stay were paid servants Having Susannah mentally refer to the slaves as servants before they were servants does not absolve her of belonging to a slave owning family Will the Sunfire authors stop pussyfooting around with this unavoidable historical fact from the early 1700s on through 1865, most of America s agricultural wealth was made by exploiting slave labor It s reprehensible But it happened Now stop trying to write around it Verdict The ignoring slavery thing really irritates me, so that s an automatic one star deduction And the willful blindness of the romance plot subtracts another I am not sure what to do with the rest Three stars it is It s not the worst of them Read it yourself and see what you think.
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- 368 pages
- Susannah (Sunfire, No 2)
- Candice Ransom
- 28 July 2019 Candice Ransom