Four Summers Waiting
The American Civil War is the setting for this story of the friendship shared by women of different temperaments and the contract Union surgeon who loves one of them. Maria Onderdonk is of a prominent family, while her friend Caroline is helping slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Through Caroline, Maria meets Henry Simms, a young doctor with family on both sides of the conflict. Though the two plan marriage, the war and Maria’s family – a father who is against the war, and an older sister who is not interested in marrying first – present obstacles. The two keep their romance alive through Maria’s journal and the letters they share, as well as their brief, dramatic encounters.
Although well researched and based in family history, the story’s characters tend toward the sentimental, and do not come to vivid lives of their own. They often stop to “tell” the history going on around them, too, distancing the reader further.