Carla Kelly wants to tell the truth, to discard myths about the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. This collection of nine stories set in the era of the frontier army gives an entertaining and educational glimpse into a world not often explored in fiction.
“Kathleen Flaherty’s Long Winter” weaves a tale of an Irish woman who has no choice but to marry a man she barely knows after the death of her husband leaves her penniless. She struggles with isolation and the cruelty of the others in the fort because of her rapid marriage. In the end, hers is a story of loss, love, and survival.
But these are not all love stories. In “Mary Murphy” one soldier reflects about the hard life of a laundress. “A Season for Heroes” tells of a buffalo soldier named Ezra Freeman, a true hero to one officer’s family.
The collection concludes with “Jesse MacGregor.” The narrator, John, looks back on an Apache attack in the desert. After his detail’s captain is killed and John is injured, authority falls to surgeon Jesse MacGregor. The account of their struggle to fight hunger, thirst, the elements, and of course, the Apaches, is mesmerizing.
Kelly does not leave comedy out of her collection. “Fille de Joie” is a charming story of a married couple reunited after an almost two-year separation. The wife is arrested after the two make too much noise during their afternoon tryst. She is charged with being a fille de joie, and the comedy ensues.
Kelly’s work will find an audience among those interested in feminist literature, American history, fiction, and nonfiction.
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
Publication date: 4/1/2003