Wow! I have so many wonderful things to say about Measure of Devotion by C.F. Frizzell that I don’t even know where to begin. Since historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and I’m also a former middle school history teacher, I knew I was going to enjoy this novel. I just didn’t realize how much I would love it.
This is the fictional story of Catherine Samson who takes on her dead brother’s identity and becomes Private Cooper Samson of the 19th Massachusetts Volunteers. As she and her fellow soldiers fight the Confederate Army in some of the war’s deadliest battles, she meets and becomes friends with Sophie Bauer. Sophie is a member of the Lady’s Aid Society which is helping the wounded soldiers just behind the battle lines. Even after Sophie leaves for her home in Gettysburg the two stay in touch through letters until those fateful days of July 1-3, 1863, when Sophie’s family home becomes the focus point of the deadliest battle of the Civil War, The Battle of Gettysburg.
The most brilliant aspect of this novel is how real the author makes the story. “Cooper”, Sophie, and their immediate family and friends are fictional. Sophie’s family farm is fictional as well, though what happened inside the farmhouse in this story did happen in real life to several farms located in the real battlefield. Other than the tale of Cooper and Sophie, the rest of this story is true. The battles are real in all their deadly, gory detail. Some of the secondary characters are authentic historical figures. The sights and sounds of the battles, the soldiers’ everyday lives, smells and scenes around the medical tents…all are factual. The author even has the characters using the correct speech pattern of the time. You can especially see this in the letters Cooper and Sophie write to each other.
Ms. Frizzell created an amazing story of war with all the courage, patriotism, horror, loss, and destruction you expect from such a tale. Layered in between all that is one of the sweetest love stories I’ve read in a while.
I won’t be surprised if this novel wins an award or two in the coming year. In fact, I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t. It shot to the very top of my favorites list, and has my highest recommendation.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.