Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not your typical historical fiction novel

My last Skirt is based on the true story of Union solider Jennie Hodgers.

The novel opens in Ireland, where Jennie and her brother Tom are very poor. Their father tells Tom he has a job as a shepherd, but Tom doesn’t want the job. Knowing that the family needs money Jennie decides to dress up like a boy and work for the bishop. During this time Jeannie realizes that there are more opportunities for boys than there are for girls, and so begins her transformation into a boy.

Their father dies and the children leave for America where Jennie continues to dress like a boy. Tom is extremely jealous of his sister who is hard working and gets all the praise. Tom decides to tell everyone that is brother is really his sister and thus Jennie must flee. She cannot live like a girl now that she has experienced the freedom of a young man.

War Between the States breaks out and Jennie decides she is going to enlist and become a private. Jeannie is known as Private Albert Cashier and fights along side her comrades for the Union.

The story was alright. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat compelled by the action. It was interesting to read how Jennie disguised herself as a man and the lengths she had to go to keep her secret. For readers looking for a woman soldier falling in love with another soldier then they will be disappointed. I was glad we didn’t get the typical love story, but then again I was hoping for it as well. The book was a decent enough read, but it just didn’t grab me like most historical fiction novels do.

That being said, Jennie’s life is very interesting and sad. The reader also experiences her life after the Civil War and into 1913. I felt sorry for Jennie as I read what happened to her after the war. In order to have the freedom of a man had she had to sacrifice a great deal. I wonder if she was truly happy.

For students looking for a historical fiction read that isn’t typical, and then this is for them. For those who are looking for a little romance and a nice pretty story that ends with rainbows and butterflies this is not the novel for them.


Michelle Moran said...

Wow - I hadn't heard about this. What a fantastic story!!!!

Ms. I said...

I hadn't heard about her either until I came across this book at a library sale. Its both amazing and sad.

Michelle Moran said...

Oh... sad? I'd better put off buying it for after the holidays then!