In stock

Trim: 6 x 9
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-942294-09-2

Lies Based on True Stories

Courtney Soling Smith

In 1863, the Elmhurst house in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, was ransacked, her outbuildings burned, and two men died. Read the testimony of six surviving witnesses to this incident and discover the truth among the lies.

This Cinderella story centers around twenty-one year-old Caroline Anderson. With her husband missing in action and presumed dead, Caroline struggles not only to overcome the hardships of life during war but also to contend with her demanding and self-centered family. Her hypochondriac mother in-law, her frivolous and gossipy sisters in-law, her sullen teenage stepson, and her quirky nine year-old stepdaughter do not help make her situation any easier. Caroline’s situation turns from difficult to dire when Union soldiers take the family captive and threaten to destroy her home.

This well-researched novel also contains interesting information about how women lived and coped during the Civil War—from fashion and beauty concerns, to recipes, home décor, cleaning tips, to sexual harassment.




Kirkus Reviews:

A tantalizingly kaleidoscopic look at an event that altered its witnesses’ lives forever.

Six witnesses relate their divergent interpretations of a violent incident that took place during the Civil War in this novel based on true stories.

Caroline Anderson lives in Greenbrier County, Virginia, at the Elmhurst house, a “magnificent place” before the Civil War erupted. President Martin Van Buren once picnicked there, but it has since decayed into ruins from neglect. Caroline’s husband, John, suddenly joins the Confederate Army, never to be seen or heard from again, leaving her to fend for herself and her two stepchildren, 8-year-old Sally and glum teenager Samuel. When bedraggled Union soldiers come marching through town, a group of them forcibly enters Caroline’s home, first looking for medical supplies and then a reprieve from their nomadic discomfort. On May 22, 1863, while Elmhurst is occupied by “horrid Yankees,” a “dreadful incident” occurs, one that leaves two men, one of them a Union soldier, dead. Years later, the incident is investigated by Gen. George L. Scarborough, under the authority of the Department of State. This ingeniously inventive novel by Smith is largely composed of the records of the testimony culled by Scarborough, collected from interviews with six witnesses, including Caroline and two of the soldiers who were in her home that day. The plot is bewitching—the author slowly, with aching suspense, inches toward the incident in question. Meanwhile, a romantic tension and rivalry brews between Caroline and Capt. James Tobin, a “sweet talking” and “handsome” soldier who will be among those who witness the event. Smith cleverly juxtaposes the different accounts, illuminating the paradoxical nature of storytelling, which reveals and conceals simultaneously. As Caroline explains, “What I mean to say is: the information you are after cannot be told in one simple story since it is actually many tales stitched up with each other.”

A tantalizingly kaleidoscopic look at an event that altered its witnesses’ lives forever.

Pages: 265