The Notorious Mrs. Winston. I just put it down. And when I did, I was sad that it was over. It has been a long time since a novel has swept me away so hard. Written by, Mary Mackey this really is a Union and Confederate love story. But it is so much more.


A Union and Confederate Love Story
The Notorious Mrs. Winstons

How did I get caught up in a true love story when I am turned off  by even the cover of a “romance book?” Traditional romance books plaster the walls in new book stores and the ones in the used book stores all look like they have been read a 100 times. I mean how would you even choose one, the covers are all so similar? I don’t know. And in all fairness;  I’ve never actually read one. In our town when people take them to the used book store they usually have a giant paper bag filled to the top. Millions of people love them And if you are one of them,  I found something you might need to treat yourself to this summer  for reading by the pool…

summer reading gift
Trashy Romance Chapstick BookishSerendipityCo

All that being said about romance books, I was really surprised how much I loved this one! It is action packed, sexy  and romantic. A Union and Confederate love story.

So let’s get to it. What I loved about this book:

Claire, a strong female character leads the charge of this book. She is beautiful, tough, clever and brave. Claire is also rebellious. She dressed as a male confederate soldier during a huge bloody battle. But it was all in the name of getting her man, John who was handsome, loyal and such a good love talker and maker. I was cheering for them the whole way through. There was also adultery, which I don’t usually  find myself applauding; but Claire was abandoning her husband Henry. In many ways he had abandoned her first by never even taking her to bed.  Henry is an odd and weak  little man and is a background parallel to the story. With genius writing the thorniness of  his presence still adds as much tension as the Civil War taking place between the union and confederate army.


Vintage Civil War


And about Claire being brave, how many women have  you heard of that dressed as men during the civil war to fight for the cause? I admit I needed to suspend my disbelief a wee bit. But honestly, the descriptive and beautiful writing had me so swept up, I didn’t care. And in actuality, there were women that posed as men during the civil war.
Woman Dressed as man during Union and Confederate Civil War
And here is the actual General, John Hunt Morgan depicted in the novel that Claire and John fought side by side with as Confederate Raiders in the book:
Union and Confederate Civil War General
John Hunt Morgan
Something else that intrigued me early in the book was the fact that her husband was an “art” photographer. I say, “art,” because deeper into the book it becomes obvious that his muse may not have been just pursuance of art but more a perversion. He used a large format camera and of course was shooting black and white. It’s intriguing to me because this is how I started as a photographer. Anytime there is descriptive imagery about photography, I am hooked. Below is Edward Weston , master photographer and the first of his kind with the style of still life photograph’s that he made. Some thought were made to look like more than fruit or veggies!
Black and White Master Photographer
Edward Weston
I get excited and inspired just by the mention of some of their names. Most importantly, my dear friend and mentor who has since passed, Jack Welpott. And all the names that come to mind along with his:
Imogen Cunningham, Ruth Bernhard, Edward Weston and so many more. And as I write this and have been searching for some change, I realize how much my heart is beating wildly to get my film camera out.
I am no expert on the Civil War between the Union and Confederate armies. But I can tell you Mary Mackey knows her stuff and she  will transport you with a vibrant and vivid view. And I am thrilled to find out, she has many more books I can add to my list, including The Widow’s War.


  • I’m not one to read romance novels, but I finally read Gone With the Wind last year and THEN watched the movie! Thank you so much for including my 1865 wedding dress from Iowa.


      I tried to read Gone with the Wind in junior high and got overwhelmed by the length. Maybe now as ad adult I could do it. Your dress is beautiful

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