When the Jessamine Grows

A Captivating Historical Novel Perfect for Book Clubs

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Pub Date 23 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 06 Feb 2024

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From the author of The Saints of Swallow Hill, an evocative, morally complex novel set in rural 19th century North Carolina, as one woman fights to keep her family united, her farm running, and her convictions whole during the most devastating and divisive period in American history, perfect for readers of Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles.

Talk of impending war is a steady drumbeat throughout North Carolina, though Joetta McBride pays it little heed. She and her husband, Ennis, have built a modest but happy life for themselves, raising two sons, fifteen-year-old Henry, and eleven-year-old Robert, on their small subsistence farm. They do not support the Confederacy’s position on slavery, but Joetta considers her family to be neutral, believing this is simply not their fight. 

Her opinion is not favored by many in their community, including Joetta’s own father-in-law, Rudean. A staunch Confederate supporter, he fills his grandsons’ heads with stories about the glory of battle and the Southern cause until one night Henry runs off to join the war. At Joetta’s frantic insistence, Ennis leaves to find their son and bring him home.

But soon weeks pass with no word from father or son and Joetta is battered by the strain of running a farm with so little help. As the country becomes further entangled in the ramifications of war, Joetta finds herself increasingly at odds with those around her – until one act of kindness brings her family to the edge of even greater disaster.

Though shunned and struggling to survive, Joetta remains committed to her principles, and to her belief that her family will survive. But the greatest tests are still to come – for a fractured nation, for Joetta, and for those she loves . . .
From the author of The Saints of Swallow Hill, an evocative, morally complex novel set in rural 19th century North Carolina, as one woman fights to keep her family united, her farm running, and her...

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ISBN 9781496740700
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Featured Reviews

Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel.

I was so excited to receive an ARC of this novel, since I love all of Donna Everhart's books. This one did not disappoint. The author always does such an amazing job of engaging the reader in the story, setting and time period. I felt that I was living along with the main character, Joetta and everything she was going through. What a wonderful character Joetta is! Ms. Everhart is a master at developing characters. I think I will always remember Joetta and her struggles. Her strength, conviction of her beliefs and her love of her family made her such a memorable character.
This is in no way an easy book to read, but the Civil War was in no way an easy time. This book gives us the very unique perspective of what it was like for families who owned small farms in the south. Most of the novels that I have read have taken place on a southern plantation or in the north. I also have never read a book that was told from the perspective of people who wanted to remain neutral and the backlash that they might experience because of their beliefs. The author also did a wonderful job of ending the novel. I highly recommend this book to historical fiction readers who love books with strong, realistic women characters. I can't wait for Ms. Everhart's next book!

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I was drawn to the premise of this book with the main character being a woman in Civil War–era North Carolina who was neutral to the issues dividing the northern and southern states.

I drew so many comparisons of this era to the times in which we currently find ourselves. I could also relate to the isolation the main character faced based on her convictions. As a politically moderate women in such a polarized world, I have also found myself dehumanized, demonized and mocked based on my own convictions. While the circumstances of the story and that time itself were much more severe than anything I’ve ever endured, I could definitely relate.

The American Civil War was a devastatingly divisive period in our history, and I fear if we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it. For that reason, I found the story both extraordinarily sad but also drew inspiration from the tenacity, courage and firm resolve of Joetta.

I laughed and cried and thought about this book long after I turned the last page. I definitely recommend it for historical fiction readers.

My thanks to @kensingtonbooks and @netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book before its publication date.

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This will be one that stays with me for a long time. It’s one of my favorite reads this year if not my favorite. Not the typical civil war novel but the story of a woman who stood up for herself and her family and took the blows that came with it. I spent an entire day reading it as I wanted to keep seeing what happened next. Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an ARC. I highly recommend it.

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