14 August 2013

The Journal by Beth Harlow, Book review

Publisher: CrossLink Publishing (February 25, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1936746347


When Mary gave a journal to her fiancé in 1861 before he left for war, neither of them had any idea how many hands would write in it over the next four years. The little book travels back and forth across enemy lines and almost takes on a personality of its own as the new owners read what others have written and add their own reflections.

The Journal covers some of the major battles of the Civil War from a personal point of view. Each soldier who writes in the journal is in a different place in his relationship with God, and each draws strength and help from what others have written.

Here are my thoughts:

Historical fiction, notably those based on actual events, has always captivated my imagination and U.S. Civil War stories are no exception! The synopsis of The Journal fascinated me from the beginning with Beth Harlow's rendering of a fictional journal circulating amongst troops on both sides, riveting!

We know Federal and Confederate soldiers when literate, kept diaries and wrote letters to their families, describing the horrors of battle, the hardships of encampment life and marches, their hopes to be reunited once the conflicts were resolved uppermost in their lines. The very idea of a journal covering the whole of the war and changing hands back and forth across enemy lines was genial!

This is by no means a large book at a mere of 60 + pages but Beth Harlow will surprise you as a newcomer to the writing world. Let's hope she will continue to share her interests, particularly in view of the fact both her great-great grandfather Miles Bart Stephenson and her husband's great grandfather James Edward Jones were fighting on opposite sides. Oh, the stories that could be told! 

An entirely hard to put down book, The Journal blends actual battles and well known generals in its narrative lending it an almost eerie current.
It has often been observed that in such times of conflicts, faith is renewed ten fold, never more so than when preparing to go to battle and it becomes obvious each new owner of the journal sees his faith grow as he becomes acquainted with the entries of previous owners.

An excellent gift for a Civil War aficionado and for homeschoolers, The Journal includes an impressive bibliography!

Beth Harlow is a name to watch for and this book merits more than its 5 stars!!

About the Author:

A native Texan, Beth Harlow and her husband, Gale, live in Franklin, Tennessee, where one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought. They have three children and are members of Brentwood Church of Christ in Brentwood, Tennessee. Beth spends as much time as she can with her four grandchildren--Claudia, Lukas, Zachary, and Tegan--and spends the rest of her time painting, gardening, reading, and writing. The Journal is her first novel.

I received a paperback copy of this title from BOOKCRASH as part of their blogger review program . I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 


  1. Sounds really fascinating! Some family documents have come to light and its just so interesting reading them! Joan

  2. As I said a genial idea for a book and an absolute keeper!
    Thanks for stopping by Dear! Your Mum reminds me a lot of my Granny! Absolutely a delightful post and hoping you get to do this again sometime soon!

  3. This sounds just what I am looking for. I am doing a similar write up of my Grandad's papers and this may give me some pointers on how to convert something that is personal to him and yet needs to have a story telling the story. Thank you. Chel x

    1. Splendid idea Chel! Please do share with us if at all possible!

  4. Sounds interesting. My great-great grandfather fought with the 139 Pennsylvania during the Civil War.* We attended the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. There were more reenactors there than at the actual battle. :-) Unfortunately, we didn't get to attend the 150th, which was this past July.

    *And yet my favorite general is Longstreet, General Lee's senior subordinate officer. The family loves me nevertheless. :-)

    1. There is this haunting feeling anytime the US Civil War is mentioned, such a sad part of history and still vivid for so many families! I visited Gettysburg once and never forgot!
      My favourite Civil war figure is Joshua L. Chamberlain Judy!

  5. Sounds an unusual kind of memoir almost.

    1. Unusual but genial! This one is a keeper Mystica!


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