‘The Widows’ War” by Mary Mackey depicts the struggles of a woman who has been separated from the man she loves. Using the Civil War as her backdrop, Mackey has crafted a touching love story about two young abolitionists who have been betrayed and lied to. It is through the determination of her two main characters, Carrie Vinton and William Saylor, that Mackey wins over her audience.

Carrie Vinton immediately captivates readers with her heart-wrenching tribulations. Her strength and determination easily moves the plot of the novel along, and the style of the author enables the reader to feel a strong connection to the young woman’s plight.
Throughout the novel, Mackey does a brilliant job interlacing love, politics and morals. In the midst of a time period when African Americans were struggling to obtain the right to have an identity and Americans were split in their views on slavery, Mackey has constructed a powerful love.

Both William and Carrie are abolitionists who will do whatever it takes to help abolish slavery and stay together. As a female, Carrie is portrayed as having to redefine the limitations placed on a woman’s strength during a time when women were seen as little more than household managers and companions for societal events.

After being lied to and exploited by a man she thought she could trust, Carrie rises above her dire circumstances and leaves with the determination of reuniting with William. Mackey enables the reader to develop a fondness for the main character because she instills so many admirable qualities into Carrie. Truly, she is a young woman who has no qualms when it comes to voicing her opinions and acting on her belief that slavery should be abolished. William and Carrie must fight against the many voices of disapproval, but their strength is born out of their refusal to cease loving one another.

Mackey has mapped out a tale of love and loss, while also giving the reader a vivid portrait of the turmoil that was the Civil War. She has exactly the right elements of romance and history to result in a novel that is both enjoyable and enlightening. Through her characters, Mackey has described the strength of love, as well as the necessity to speak out against injustices.

‘The Widows’ War” is a beautifully written novel that conveys two very important messages true love, regardless of the circumstances, can never be broken apart, and even the smallest of actions can help bring about the end of a grave injustice.

Leonard is a member of
the class of 2013.

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