A Separate Country

Written by Robert Hicks
Review by Lisa Ann Verge


The bestselling author of The Widow of the South has penned another atmospheric masterpiece, this time a moving portrait of the post-Civil War life of Confederate general John Bell Hood.

New Orleans is in the grip of yellow fever, and General Hood is dying. He summons to his deathbed a young man whose family had been destroyed during one of Hood’s many campaigns—a young man who’d once tried to murder him. Into this man’s care, General Hood deposits a most precious book. It is not Hood’s war memoirs, detailing how he lost his leg at Chickamauga, or the use of his arm at Gettysburg—that book he orders to be burned. This book concerns his life after the war, more specifically, his marriage to Anna Marie Hennen, the flower of Creole aristocracy. Through her, Hood came to know the true New Orleans—of a dwarf who rules a powerful underworld; of a burly priest who tends to yellow fever’s colored victims; and of a piano player lynched trying to pass as white. This story, combined with Anna Marie’s own memoirs and the young man’s commentary, details the deeply emotional journey of a soldier who seeks forgiveness not just through the love of his family, not just through acts of charity that destroy him socially and financially, but also through the grace of those very men whose lives he destroyed.

Robert Hicks has penned a powerful story of redemption set in a swampy, insular, and color-conscious New Orleans. The novel is filled with psychologically complex characters whose true natures remain a mystery until the peeling of the final layer. A Separate Country is a fabulous novel, and well worth the wait.