When a great occurrence in history is determined by a few key events, many wonder how history might have changed had those key events not happened, or happened differently. Such is the case with the Civil War. In David Parrot's, The Last Best Hope, this question is turned into the fictional story of Ezekiel Edwards and Chastity Stottish.
One of the interesting tactics of this book the mixture of both historical figures and fictional characters. Lincoln himself plays a role, and it is interesting to see Parrott's view on how Lincoln may have handled defeat. The morose, sullen, and often cranky man is far from the Lincoln most of us picture, but was portrayed in a way that felt believable. The same could be said for many of the other notable historical characters like John Wilkes-Booth and The Pinkertons. The research done on these men showed through, and the creative license taken to incorporate them into this story brought them to life.
The main characters, Ezekiel and Chastity, are both interesting characters. Ezekiel was more of a standout for me than Chastity, due partly to his larger bulk of the chapters, but also because of his deeper backstory and the confusion he is faced with after the war when he must struggle between making his fortune in this new world or standing up for what he once fought for. Chastity plays a smaller role as a willful daughter of a local tycoon. She is spirited and a lively character, but I didn't feel as though she had as much depth as Ezekiel, which made it more difficult for me to get into her character. The relationship that develops between the two was enjoyable. Their irritation at each other early on was a fun aspect, especially knowing that they really were fairly well suited for each other.
This was an interesting take on what the United States (turned Confederate) might have been like. I felt like Parrot did a good job of creating a realistic alternate history. My main issue with the book as a whole was the pacing. For those who enjoy detailed historical novels, it may not be a problem. I had been hoping for a little more excitement and struggle and less of the workings of the oil business. I found myself only becoming seriously invested in the story about halfway through the book when Lincoln's life is in danger and Ezekiel steps in to give warning and help. If there had been more of this earlier on it would have held my attention better through the first half of the book.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, but selectively. It's not going to be for everyone.
Who would I recommend this book too? I think it is mainly going to attract serious historical and Civil War era readers. Those looking for an action or adventure story may not get what they were after. Those looking for a serious romance won't be pulled in as much by Ezekiel and Chastity's story as more passionate romances. Readers who are willing to invest the time into this book will find it to be an interesting take on what might have been.
The Last Best Hope is available now from Amazon.