I finally got around to reading this Civil War novel that everybody read about five years ago. As a first novel, it falls in the same category as The Kite Runner, in that it is quite remarkably good for a first attempt at fiction. There were some awkward parts to it, however.
The author makes no secret that his book is partly a love elegy to a geographical area, but towards the end of the novel, the descriptions start to overpower the narrative, and I wish there were a little more about the characters and a little less about the locations.
That being said, this book is imaginative and unique, extremely well researched, and a thoroughly enjoyable read (though rather depressing). It is, in the end, a book about war, and about how war makes monsters out of men. Inman is an extremely rare trustworthy soul in a country where brothers were killing brothers. I found his story rather difficult and brutish, but this was made up for by the story of Ada and Ruby. Two women making the land work for them, eking out an existence, growing into a friendship despite their many differences - this was the most interesting part of the book for me. I feel that is one of this book's strong suits; it has three different stories: the land, Inman, and Ada, and there is enough of each one to satisfy the reader who prefers one of these over the other two. All in all, this is quite a good novel, and worth the read.