My guest on this month’s Open Book is Devereaux Chivington Stebbins. Devereaux, who writes under the pen name C.S. Devereaux, has written several memoirs, but her most recent novel is her first work of historical fiction. While It’s based on the life of a North Carolina man, Jason Hyde, and the town he helped build in the mountains of North Carolina it is equally a portrait of a period in the history of the country immediately before and after the Civil War.
Wars are necessarily disruptive, but a civil war upends everyone’s life as well as the social order. At the beginning of the novel Jason Hyde is a school teacher, married with a young family, but almost as soon as war is declared his life begins to fall apart when he loses his job and can’t pay his bills or feed his growing family. The choices he makes in the face of these challenges reflect the upheaval and devastation wrought by the war and its aftermath in the nascent union.