|photo from the internet|
The first chapter of this novel made me suspicious that I was going to be reading something heavily influenced by Gone With the Wind....but, in spite of some minor influences, this book stood on its own as a testament to the strength and innovative faith of the people of North Alabama during "Reconstruction." It is about the founding of Birmingham, which became Alabama's "Magic City, " and gave my state (for I am from Jasper, 45 miles away...the Jasper Road is often mentioned in the book) new life based on more than agriculture, but the explosion of growth and prosperity based on some of the richest iron ore in the country! I grew up knowing about Irondale, Bessemer, coal mining, Sloss Furnace. I saw the famous Vulcan statue high on the side of Red Mountain as I drove back from other states and knew I was almost home. I attended a family wedding at Arlington Plantation, the real Red Acres. This novel has much to offer: a star-crossed story of two people hopelessly in love, intrigue and back-room deals, loss of family members and homes, despair at ever achieving "Home Rule" again after ten years of painful reconstruction....but it also offers the story of the birth pangs of an industry that grew strong and bright and gave Alabama hope. It isn't a gem of literary mastery, but a really good book. I thoroughly enjoyed it!