Cover Image: Veiled in Smoke

Veiled in Smoke

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

What a compelling and well written story. I enjoyed this tale of a family during and after the great Chicago fire. It has lots of twists and turns, a interesting mystery and good characters. This was my first Jocelyn Green book and it was an good read. It's got tragedy as well as hope in its pages and the ending was very good. I am looking forward to book two in this saga.
Was this review helpful?
To be honest, I started reading this book almost exactly a year ago, but found myself unable to get into it. I had some personal tragedies going on in my life at the moment, and found the topics of the Chicago fire and 'Soldier's Heart' (or what we know as PTSD) was just a little too heavy for my heart at the moment. So I put the book aside with the intention of getting back to it eventually. With the new book in the series coming out this month, it seemed like the perfect time to try again. 

Boy, am I glad I did! In fact, I found myself wishing I hadn't let it sit on my TBR all this time. In this story, we meet two sisters Sylvie and Meg whose father Stephen has come back from the war not quite himself. Of course, we now know this to be PTSD, but at the time was called Soldier's Heart and wasn't nearly as known or understood as it is now. When the fire sends his mind back to the frontlines, it seems to make him the perfect suspect in the murder of his friend. 

This story has the perfect blend of mystery and drama, with great historical content, messages of faith and just a touch of romance too. It was both enlightening and heartbreaking to see the attitudes and treatments of mental illness in those days. These difficult topics were written in such a beautiful way that ultimately left a more hopeful feeling at the end. I found myself quite invested in the lives of these characters and can't wait to see what happens to them next. Definitely a must read for fans of historical fiction. 

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for consideration. All thoughts are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I’ve heard of the Great Fire in Chicago during that period but I don’t believe or can’t remember if I’ve read an historical fiction story that takes place during that time. I was delighted to come across, Veiled in Smoke and I had not read any of Green’s stories beforehand. Needless to say, I was unfamiliar with her work and was eager to delve in her world-building.

I have to say, while the introduction of the characters in the beginning was intriguing, the build-up to the day of the fire felt rushed and lacked a certain substance. I started to have doubts about this book but rallied on. The story didn’t take off until the fire broke out. At that very moment, I felt a shift in the structure of the storytelling and became immensely captivated. The telling of the fire itself and was outstanding and so realistic, you are completely transported to time and place.

I enjoyed reading about Meg and Sylvie’ life during this tragic event and the author does a marvelous job at creating sisterly tension and, at times, unease in their relationship. She also shows their love for each other, for their father and others.

Although different in many ways, Meg with her artistic ability and Sylvia with her love of books and independent in thought, they are both intelligent and they didn’t give up, despite their daunting predicaments. There are many life lessons to be learned with their story.

Stephen’s suffering from Soldiers Heart AKA PTSD from his time as a POW in Andersonville is heartbreaking, yet, eye opening to read about. The Prison camp is reported to have been the largest prison for holding Union soldiers and its conditions are heartbreaking to say the least.

Having said that, there is a topic about how Andersonville was portrayed that I felt needed to be addressed in the story and wasn’t. I felt the subject a bit one sided and conveniently left out to drive a particular narrative about the South. The soldiers weren’t suffering entirely at the fault of people in charge of running the camps. The guards weren’t in much better shape due to the lack of supplies for all. As the war raged on, throughout the south, there was great suffering of starvation, death due to food shortages, water pollution, lack of clothing, disease, increase violence among the civilians, particularly to the females, and lack medicines. While it is known that the north managed prisons differently, both Union and Confederate, really, suffered deficiencies. There was also Lincoln’s blockade of the southern states that played a huge role in this problem.

I can’t say for certain what the author’s intentions were regarding this topic, but nonetheless, I have to say, this particular part slightly vexed me somewhat because I see this premise often in historical fiction and in our education system. That said, and to be fair, the author does give an indication of how the union prisoners treated each other in Andersonville and quite possibly she is portraying how a union solder’s mindset-at the time-probably was due to trauma experienced to drive the stories narrative. Another consideration is that writing a historical story is far more difficult than it appears. You can’t please everyone.

Years after the war, Stephen still struggles with PTSD. Then when Stephen is charged with a serious crime, that took place during the fire, and taken to the Cook Cunty Insane Asylum, would be anyone’s undoing. In one instance, when he arrived to the asylum, they reduced him to a number, stripping his identity to make him less human.

From previously reading about asylums during that period, I had already known what they were like but reading Stephen’s experience made it all too real and affected me in such a way, that even now, I’m still outraged and sadden over the ill treatment of patients in those places. It is absolutely appalling how he was treated and the lack of respect he was given for his service during the war. Even before he was put in that place. His struggles are deeply felt.

Despite what I said about the prison camp topic, I must confess that this is one of the better stories written I’ve read that takes place during post-civil war in the 19th Century. I have noted many passages that I found to be inspiring and I feel deeply about many of the characters.

Green weaves a compelling story of a family’s fight for survival and healing. She gives us a well-constructed insight into the lives of the characters, Stephen’s mental state and trauma the fire caused the city and its’ people. Overall, there are many elements to the story that make it a noble read.

Veiled in Smoke will be placed among my go-to 19th Century Historical Fiction reads and I look forward to reading the next book in this saga.

Stephanie Hopkins

Side note: If you are a fan of Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott, most likely you will enjoy this story a great deal!
Was this review helpful?
Fire, mystery, murder, oh my! This book was full of deception! I was horrified by all that went on with Stephen. The scary part is that things like that happened and PTSD is a horrible thing to live with. I don’t want to share too much! I’m excited to be on to the next book in the series and will review it shortly.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley on behalf of the Publisher and was under no obligation to post a favorable review.
Was this review helpful?
What do you do when your world burns? When the family and the future you thought you'd have fade away like ash?

Jocelyn Green grapples with these questions and more in this intriguing look into one of Chicago's greatest tragedies.

Meg and Sylvie thought their family would be complete when their father returned from the Civil War. Turns out, their heartache was only beginning. But perhaps, even through the deepest pain, God can bring impossible healing and incredible redemption.

Although written in a different style than I normally enjoy, Veiled in Smoke challenged me, fascinated me, and drew me in as I experienced the Great Fire and followed the path of one family's journey through the flames and into an unexpected future.

I especially appreciated how the author dealt with the struggle of PTSD--in a time when it was not only misunderstood but also erroneously mistreated. My favorite aspect of this topic addressed in the book was the way Sylvie's relationship with her father changed as they walked through this journey together.

Also, Nate and Meg's friendship and eventual romance were absolutely adorable and so enjoyable to read, particularly as Nate supports and encourages Meg through some of the biggest struggles of her life.

I will admit that I expected the story to go a different way and was slightly disappointed when it didn't, however, that is more of a personal thing. ;)

Content Advisories: This was a very clean book with light romance. Some topics to be aware of include traumatic scenes (including a fire and POW struggles) as well as a heavy emphasis on PTSD.

Overall, FOUR STARS for a well-written and recommended Historical Christian Fiction read.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE, and a positive review was not required.
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting story telling by Jocelyn Green weaving the character with the Chicago Fire. Her descriptions in pulling me, the reader, into the story kept me turning page after page for more. It wasn't an overly cheery book, but the melancholy feel I get is perhaps the period of time in Chicago. I don't feel like living in a city full of pollution, and the tragedy of fire, would necessarily be bright and cheerful.
Was this review helpful?
I am so excited about this new series, The Windy City Saga, that Jocelyn Green has started. Veiled in Smoke is set in Chicago at the time of the Great Fire in 1871. This is a fabulous story of the event, the destruction, and the amazing resilience of the people as they rebuilt their city, but it is also SO much more!

Veiled in Smoke is a story of destruction, despair, hope, and redemption wrapped around an intriguing mystery and a bit of romance!

I am absolutely amazed at the amount of research that went into this book and the way Green has intricately woven together so many aspects of life at that time. The heartbreakingly realistic story of the fire and its aftermath had my heart racing as characters ran for their lives and had me in tears as they returned to find their wonderful homes and city desolate. The pain of lost businesses, friends, and even abilities was raw and palpable, and as a reader I was praying for them and cheering them on as they rose above their situations and found new ways to support themselves and each other. This was especially timely for me as I have watched my daughter and her town of Panama City work to recover from the deadly hurricane that hit last year and I've watched from afar as the California and Colorado wildfires have devastated those areas.

The book also includes fascinating secondary stories that provide the reader with a sense of witnessing the inside operations of an insane asylum, the heart-rendering realities of prisoner of war camps and the resulting PTSD (called Soldier's Heart at the time), the operations of an 1800's newspaper, and the changing face of the art world! And it is done in such a way that it seems very logical and in no way overwhelming or confusing. As a history buff, I was in awe!

I highly recommend this book if you like intrigue, historical fiction, and romance that doesn't feel forced. I am in awe of authors who are able to make me feel like I am standing in the midst of history, and Jocelyn Green is a master.
Was this review helpful?
The fires in Chicago are a devastating part of their history and have resulted in a lot of modern fire codes we have today. Reading this book was a little bit hard for me this year as I've been mainly wanting light and fluffy. Jocelyn's time researching, however, is evident and really makes this historical novel shine.
Meg and Sylvie are fascinating characters to follow under problematic circumstances. They each deal with joy and pain in different ways but ultimately rely on each other. I love seeing their sisterly bond.
I started this book several months ago and just finished it. This doesn't speak to how it is written, only me needing and prioritizing comedy over tragedy with other reads. Otherwise, this book is completely worth the read and the thread of hope throughout ultimately kept me coming back for more.
Thank you to Bethany House and NetGalley for the complimentary copy. All thoughts in this review are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Loved the history ingrained into the storyline. I did have a harder time getting into the story but stuck with it-the history was fascinating!

Disclosure statement:
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this
in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Was this review helpful?
Such expressive writing is always a joy to read.

The beautiful cover of this book immediately captured my attention, and I added the book to my to-read list solely because of that. The colors, the smoke, and the tone work magnificently together to perfectly set the mood for the story beneath the jacket.

The bookshop and Great Chicago Fire were written in ways that made them come to life for me. The richness of the writing was clearly a help here, and I felt fully immersed in the story for the vast majority of the time. The characters were amazing and interesting and well developed. The complexity of their personal issues created good drama within the family unit and also among acquaintances. The insane asylum was strangely fascinating. I had not heard of “soldier’s heart” before, so it was interesting learning about this. The use of art in the recovery efforts was stupendous!

Through the utter heartbreak in this book, there were stirrings of hope. I especially enjoyed that.

One conversation felt much too modern, as it was clearly a nod to the Five Love Languages:

Sylvie: She’s always felt loved through touch.
Stephen: How do you feel love?
Sylvie: Time.

If this book were set during any year from 1990 to 2020 or beyond, I would have not even blinked through that conversation, but because the story was set in the early 1870s, this interrupted my reading experience as it felt like a very modern ideal.

Content: a couple of expletives, alcohol, drugs
Was this review helpful?
Such a tender story of family, love, and faith. Green writes with such emotional depth and truth. This was my first novel of hers, but it won't be my last. I so enjoyed her rich historical detail and the unique mystery!
Was this review helpful?
Veiled in Smoke is a book with so much depth, you can’t rush through it. Set during the Great Chicago fire, it tells the story of one family’s struggle to survive. It’s written well and I could clearly picture what was happening. I didn’t know a lot about the aftermath of the Chicago fire and this story gave me a much better picture of the devastation. I felt like I was there right along side the family. It was difficult to read about Meg’s father and his time in the asylum. It gave me the shivers. I really liked getting to know Meg and Sylvie better. I think the reader can learn valuable truths right along with the characters in the story.
I listened to most of this story as an audiobook. I thought the narrator did an excellent job telling the story and bringing to life the emotions throughout the story. She spoke in a easy to listen to voice that didn’t detract from the story.

I recommend this book to my family and friends.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. I also purchased a copy for myself. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
“Veiled in Smoke” by Jocelyn Green is a novel about the Great Chicago Fire.  The Townsend sisters manage the family bookstore.  Their father is a veteran of the Civil War and a returned prisoner of war.  He has what would be determined today as PTSD.  Meg and Sylvie have their hands full running the store and keeping their father from wreaking too much havoc in their neighborhood.  Sometimes he thinks he is back in the battles of the war and reacts accordingly.

They were coping, but then the Great Fire swept through the business district and they lost the store.  Although they escaped, they became separated from their father.  With the help of a friend who is a reporter for a Chicago newspaper, they find him but are stunned to find that a family friend was murdered the night of the fire and that their father is charged with the crime.  What follows finds Meg trying to prove her father’s innocence.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars for this historical romance set in the time of the great Chicago Fire. In this book, we follow sisters Meg and Sylvie as they struggle to care for their father who has "soldier's heart" (modern day translation - PTSD), and keep their fledgling bookstore alive after the death of their mother. When the fire sweeps through Chicago, they lose nearly everything and find themselves separated from their father. This book covers not only the fire itself, but the aftermath and rebuilding.

I really enjoyed the history of this book and it really made me think about the massive rebuilding effort that had to happen after this great fire. Learning that the sidewalks had been wooden and the roofs of buildings were made of tar paper, it was easy to see how the fire spread so quickly. To see it from the vantage point of people who were living through it, including one who had PTSD from the Civil War just 6 years prior, was enlighting. Ms. Green did a good job of describing the thoughts and feelings of Stephen as he struggled with the paranoia and insomnia that accompanied his "soldier's heart". His struggles to relate to his daughters after the war was also heart-rending. I loved how the girls grew, spirtitually and emotionally, after the fire. While they had merely coexisted before, they were forced to work together to get their business back and their father back. The opening up of communication and strengthening the bonds of sister-hood were beautiful. Both sisters also sought out romance in the aftermath of the fire, but only one of them gets a happily-ever-after (I won't tell you which one though). I hope that future books (since this is book 1 in a series) will offer up the same chance to the other sister. This book also included a mystery as a close friend is shot on the night of the fire and they seek to uncover who did it and why. While I suspected the "who", the "why" took me by complete surprise. With the mystery, the historical elements, the romance, the emotional struggles of the family, and the sister theme, there's a little something here for everyone.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an e-copy of this book. I was under no obligation to write a review and the thoughts contained herein are my own.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

Honestly, I have been mulling over my review for awhile because I'm not really sure what I thought about a number of things.  First, the story starts with the fire and that's some really gripping storytelling, with graphic details about the fire that honestly had me putting the book down to settle my stomach.  But then the scene switches suddenly to a completely different scene and we have the girls getting used to life in a fancy house.  Then again it’s back to the bookstore lot and everything changes again, plus there’s the insane asylum that lends lots of dark detail.

The asylum scenes are super intense and deal with similar material as another I read this year, [book:The Gray Chamber|43363467], but I think it was even more gritty than the other novel.  

It also addresses the issues of the most famous of the Civil War’s prisons, Andersonville and Camp Douglas.  While I did appreciate the highlight that the North has their own infamous place (which most fiction conveniently ignores) the statistics in the end notes also ignored the additional facts that, while the South was so pinched for food that even the guards were starving, the North was pinched neither for food nor cloth and had no reason to starve their prisoners and leave them forcibly exposed to harsh winter temperatures.  It left me with an interesting conflict because I admire the wish to show that the North wasn’t perfect as far as prisons went, but then it fell short because I felt she was making excuses by comparison and basically saying “yeah, it was really bad, but it wasn’t so bad because they were worse.”  And the guard who was there “wasn’t so nasty because he only stole personal items from the prisoners but didn’t torture them” and I was a bit shocked that his thefts would be considered so lightly.

Meg was my favorite of the sisters.  Her staunch spirit even when faced with personal losses as well as material ones and I really enjoyed having a character who was that adult in her emotional responses rather than finding a corner to go mope in.  She’s a strong woman without being unnecessarily abrasive, which I really liked.  Sylvie was not as vibrant to me but that may change in the next book, since her character was showing positive signs near the end of the book.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a free reading copy.  A favorable review was not required.
Was this review helpful?
Veiled in Smoke is a historical fiction novel written by Jocelyn Green. It is book one in The Windy City Saga.

Summary: Meg and Sylvie Townsend live one day at a time. They help in the family bookshop, and work to take care of their father-who was never the same after returning from war.

Neither of them are happy or content, but they make their way through life. And then, the fire. Everything is wiped away in one swift move, and even worse-their father is accused of murdering a family friend.

Now Meg and Sylvie must try to come to grips with their new lives after the fire, and fight with all they can to prove their father’s innocence.

Will they be able to recover what they have lost? Is there any hope of starting again?

My Thoughts: I have always been fascinated with this time period in history, and I enjoyed reading all of the historical tidbits interjected throughout the story.

The author did a wonderful job of painting a picture of what it really could have been like during and after the Great Chicago Fire.

The story was definitely very melancholy though. This is actually not the first time I have said this about the author, so maybe it is a writing style? Anyway, the ones I have read have an abusive father figure, and there is a lot more down, than there is up.

Overall though, I thought the storyline and the mystery were very interesting, and I especially liked the main male character Nate Pierce.

I probably wouldn’t read it again, but I think mainly because it could have used a little more positivity for my taste. The writing was well done and the storyline interesting, so if you don’t mind the melancholy you might enjoy this book.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my review. Thank you.
Was this review helpful?
Veiled in Smoke is a trip deep into the history of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Author Jocelyn Green takes the reader along the tumultuous ride that sisters Meg and Sylvie experience before, during, and after the fire. This story also delves into the mysteries of PTSD, at the time referred to as Soldier's Heart, and how it affects not only the soldier, but those they love, and those they have contact with upon reentering everyday life.

In the story, Meg and Sylvie have grown up in and above a bookstore owned by their father Steven Townsend. Just as they each learn to stretch their gifting and navigate adulthood, the fire ravages their neighborhood and their family, forcing both young women to realize that they cannot live life on their own. As they learn who to trust, and who not to, they are faced with the unnerving decisions they must make on their own as their father has been accused of murdering his best friend, Hiram Sloane, and is now in an asylum.

This book took me longer to read than most of Jocelyn's earlier works. It delves so deeply into PTSD, and the tragedy of the Great Chicago Fire that I found myself needing to step away for a few days after each chapter and process the emotions the topics raised. Such a great book, but so deep and challenging. 

Finishing reading this offering just as the current situation with Covid-19 started spreading gave me a new appreciation for how much we humans can endure, when we look to the right place for our strength and wisdom - when we look to God to order our steps. 

I highly recommend this book, with a caveat: if you are struggling with depression because of the pandemic, it might be best to enjoy another of Jocelyn's titles and save this one to read later in the year.
Was this review helpful?
This story, which is set during the days of the great Chicago fire, was enthralling.  There’s several plot lines that seem at first to be unrelated to the fire, but the author skillfully weaves them together into an book that I could hardly put down.  I liked the main characters, Meg and Sylvie.  I had great sympathy for them as they tried to navigate very difficult circumstances, compounded by PTSD suffered by their father, Stephen, during the Civil War.  Stephen’s mental health unravels further as a result of the fire, and the family has much to overcome as they try to rebuild their lives after the fire and help their father return home to them.  

The research the author put into this book made this story come alive, and I think this is Jocelyn Green’s best book so far.  I also appreciated the spiritual emphasis of the story, especially as it related to Stephen and his internal struggle to not let his horrible war experiences completely destroy him.  There’s more to be told about this family, and I look forward to this series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Meg and Sylvie must cope with their dad's PTSD from the Civil War.  Stephen had been jailed at Andersonville in South Carolina and suffered greatly.  In Chicago during the Great Fire, their home and business were destroyed.  Fleeing from the fire, their father was caught up and wrongly arrested.  Because of his "soldier's heart" condition, he was kept in jail.  Newspaper reporter Nate, a new friend of Meg and Sylvie, helped with his release.  But, there was still the PTSD to contend with, all while trying to rebuild their home and business.  Meg and Sylvie have a lot of pluck, for sure.

The story also includes the intriguing story of a Confederate solider, turned Union soldier.
Was this review helpful?
Incredible story of faith and courage amidst the backdrop of the Great Chicago Fire. 
This is my first time reading any of Jocelyn Green’s stories and I will definitely be reading more in the future. She did an amazing job of writing a historically accurate story with deep characters, (good and bad) in a compassionate and eye-opening way. 
The characters are presented with insurmountable obstacles, yet their faith and determination help them persevere against all odds. My heart ached for them and the tangible pain (both physical and emotional) they endured during the story. 
It was a bit heavy in places but there were bursts of camaraderie, human connection and grace that helped balance it out. The way everyone came together and rebuilt after the fire was very touching and inspiring. . 
In light of the current pandemic, reading about the connection and persevering spirit of humanity made this story settle well on my soul, like a breath of fresh air and a reminder of the most important things in life: faith, and people. 
I’m excited to read the next story in this series and highly recommend this one. 

I was given this free copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here in are completely my own.
Was this review helpful?