Jarrettsville: A Novel

By Cornelia Nixon
Publisher:Counterpoint, (9/29/2009)

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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Based on a true story from the author’s family history, Jarrettsville begins in 1869, just after Martha Jane Cairnes has shot and killed her fiancé, Nicholas McComas, in front of his Union cavalry militia as they were celebrating the anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.

To find out why she murdered him, the story steps back to 1865, six days after the surrender, when President Lincoln has just been killed by John Wilkes Booth. Booth belongs to the same Rebel militia as Martha’s hot-headed brother Richard, who has gone missing along with Booth. Martha is loyal to her brother but in love with Nicholas McComas, a local hero of the Union cause, and their affair is fraught with echoes of the bloody conflict just ended.

The story is set in Northern Maryland, six miles below the Mason-Dixon line, where brothers literally fought on opposing sides, and former slave-owners live next door to abolitionists and freed men. Such tension proves key to Martha’s motives in killing the man she loves, and why — astonishingly — she is soon acquitted by a jury of her peers, despite more than fifty eyewitnesses to the crime.
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CagneyC's thoughts on "Jarrettsville: A Novel"
updated on:7/12/2010

This is one of the saddest books I have read.  Not only because of the murder that occurs but because it was so unnecessary.  Based on a true case, this novel makes for tragedy based on human nature a very real thing.  If there were not so many political motives, so much prejudice, so much gossip among the people of the area and so much failure to communicate between the two main characters, whether because of lack of trust, fear of hurting the other's feelings, or a desire to keep the other from being hurt, this incident would never have happened. The feelings between neighbors with different loyalties in the first years after the Civil War are highlighted here better than I have seen in any other book I have read.


"Jarrettsville: A Novel"
By Cornelia Nixon

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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