5 of 5 stars *****
Review This is one of the best books I have read this year. I put the book in the bathroom so I would only read a chapter at a time once halfway through - it is one of those books I did not want to end too soon. I love the style, vocabulary, plot, history, characters, and charm of the era when and where the story takes place as well as the author's talent when he writes The Crisis at the turn of the twentieth century.
The language of that time in this fictional history maintains the story's integrity and is not intended to offend, at all. Winston Churchill, himself, a native of St. Louis, incorporates the feelings, beliefs, and mores through the characters' interactions. These characters include both strong-willed, admirable men and women along with the self-important, deprived, and greedy.
The story begins before the Civil War in the considered American West, St. Louis, Missouri, and Illinois. St. Louis is a blend of Southerners and Northerners with the protagonist, a new arrival from Boston, and a flavor of immigrants from Germany. The community's distinguishing elders from both sides are congenial with one another but each have fervent opinions and loyalties when it comes to Union or Confederate. A much reviled and loved character emerges from Illinois; one who sees both sides of the inevitable calamity, who decisively follows his heart in burdensome times evidenced by his love of God and country. This man is Abraham Lincoln.
The story's palpable love interest piques the imagination with the reserved manner of the courting etiquette appropriate for these times. One woman, Virginia, a major character, is the desire of most men who lay eyes upon her but she dictates who is worthy. Her emotional fluctuations poignantly intertwine with the theme of the book, thus, both sides, North and South, unfold in the telling of her suitors' escapades. The best of the human spirit, the noblest qualities of men and women under the duress of war fill the bulk of the plot. The story ends after the Civil War but the story's memory lingers. The Crisis is written in an elegance that captures moments seen through Churchill's vision for every reader's pleasure.