The Doctor’s Daughter: The Choice

Written by Belle Blackburn
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

This American Civil War story—second in a series, after The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice—opens in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1862. Kate Rockwell has married into a wealthy Confederate family but realizes that she still loves her old flame, country neighbor Danny Davis. When Kate’s father-in-law antagonizes the military governor, the entire extended family, including three slaves, are evicted from their city mansion. They all take refuge in Kate’s old home: her mother’s two-room cabin on a small farm in the fictitious community of Peony, Tennessee. The book is about family and friends learning how to work together to survive the hardships of wartime. Other plot lines involve Kate’s marital issues, her mother’s love for a Union captain, the sad deterioration of a grandmother with early-onset dementia, and the fates of the three slaves.

This is a folksy, entertaining story with a regional flavor, as down-to-earth as a patchwork quilt or a rag rug. Readers will enjoy the accounts of old-time country life, although sometimes there is too much information, especially in the scenes of herbal healing. The book is marred by the vicious, macabre disposal of a not-quite-dead Yankee soldier—a tasteless, barbaric episode that will undermine the reader’s admiration for these valiant Southern women. Kate’s supposed forgetfulness about an incriminating item causes severe problems for a major character. It is difficult to believe that she could really be that careless, and leads the reader to suspect that she did it on purpose to achieve her own happy ending. Kate is not entirely likeable.

Errors in grammar and usage (other than those done on purpose for the dialogue) are distracting. The novel needed more vigorous copy-editing before publication.