Moccasin Trace by Hawk MacKinney
Length: Full (237 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon
… it was about the land…a tale of love and loss and hope…
“The most engaging and brilliantly crafted historical work since Margaret Mitchell’s great classic.” Barbara Casey Author, The Gospel According to Prissy
Hamilton Ingram looked out across the fertile Georgia bottomlands that were Moccasin Hollows, seeing holdings it had taken generations of Ingrams to build. No drop of slave sweat ever shed in its creation. It was about the land…his trust, his duty to preserve it for the generation of Ingrams to come…
It is July of 1859, a month of sweltering dog days and feverish emotional bombast. Life is good for widower Rundell Ingram and his Hazel-eyed, roan-haired son, Hamilton. Between the two of them, they take care of Moccasin Hollows, their rustic dogtrot ancestral home, a sprawling non-slave plantation in the rolling farming country outside Queensborough Towne in east Georgia. Adjoining Ingram lands is Wisteria Bend, the vast slave-holding plantation of Andrew and Corinthia Greer, their daughter Sarah, and son Benjamin.
Both families share generations of long-accepted traditions, and childhood playmates are no longer children. The rangy, even-tempered Norman-Scottish young Hamilton is smitten with Sarah, who has become an enticing capricious beauty—the young lovers more in love with each passing day, and only pleasant times ahead of them.
But a blood tide of war is sweeping across the South, a tide that might be impossible to stand before.
Charm marks Mackinney’s civil war-era romance: The charm of the south, the built-in, home grown sort of charm that happens in families that rely on one another, and among people who strive to maintain their own sense of self in such times. There is much here on the strength and gentility of specific personalities that have struggled through such a difficult time.
Mocassin Trace is full of the sense of old time southern flavor–war torn and struggling, but somehow still sweet. Conversations, from tone to choice of language help create an aura of ‘old time south.” Hamilton and his lovely Sarah are our main characters, and both are refreshingly human. They are nice people, obviously attracted, but also, human and flawed. They aren’t the sort of characters, nor have they the sort of relationship, that keeps one madly turning the page, but they are interesting, if a bit precious.
Although the story ‘starts’ in 1865, events can happen at different times: more than once I was confused as to whether I was reading something that had happened, or was looking forward to something that was going to. This story is both their marriage and their courtship, and there’s no concern on giving away the romance, as it sets off with them married. They run in to their share of troubles, and that is the more unpredictable piece.
In this work, oddly enough, some secondary characters are greater and more appealing than the main characters. The wisdom of Corinthia shines through whenever she appears, and her voice seems so authentic. “Although my place is here, I can’t put away thoughts of other mothers and daughters weeping for sons and loved ones and husbands they may never hold again. It’s the same dread I felt when you had whooping cough. That whole dreadful night Bessie and I sat up praying for you…”
And author Mackinney has a deft hand with humor as well, and makes the most of a turn of phrase (For example: We don’t want you mopin’ like some cow off its feed. from Bessie, who has a whole different slant on Wisdom.)
Those interested in the era will find this book heartwarming.