Book Review: The Search (Across the Great Divide Book 2) by Michael L. Ross.
Publication Date: December 15, 2020 Publisher: HistoricalNovelsRUS Page Length: 217 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Where do you go when home is no longer an option? The guns of the Civil War have ceased firing, and the shots are but an echo... yet the war rages on, deep inside Will Crump's soul. His "soldier's heart" is searching for peace, and in that quest Will joins the westward movement, setting his path on a collision course with adventure, loss, and love. The Westward Expansion floods the sacred, untouched lands with immigrants, bringing conflict to the Shoshone, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Amidst the chaos Will finds safety in the shadow of the US Army, but the army brings battle-hardened troops into Red Cloud's War, pulling Will into a tornado of conflict. Broken treaties and promises leave both sides searching for answers. Will's search leads him to a battle for survival, and there he finds a love that could change him forever. Dove, a young Shoshone woman, is a survivor of the Bear Creek Massacre. After being kidnapped and escaping from the Cheyenne, she joins Will's search, seeking where she belongs. Dove longs for more than the restricted role placed on women in her tribe. If she can learn to trust a white man, he just might help her find home... and hope. Together, Will and Dove must search for understanding, and reach Across the Great Divide.
“How could he ever forget and pretend his life was normal?”
The Civil War had left its scars—not all of which could be seen. Will Crump craved peace. Peace from the nightmares which plagued him while he slept, but also while he was awake. Will knows he will never find peace amongst the familiar faces of his family, and so he packs up his life and heads for the mountains, hoping that there he will find the peace he needs. What he had not counted on was the unrest between the United States Army and the native population.
Will finds himself thrust into a conflict he neither foresaw nor wanted. But this time he is not just fighting for a flag and independence, he is fighting for the woman he is falling hopelessly in love with…
The Search (Across the Great Divide Book 2) by Michael L. Ross is a novel that does not threaten to mesmerise, it really does.
Riddled with survivor’s guilt because of what happened at Buffington Island and brought to his knees with grief for those who had died at Camp Douglas, Will is a man living on the edge. He desperately searches for words of comfort in the Bible, and he prays endlessly to God to stop the pain, but he is met with only a cold silence. So he chooses to try to outrun his past, leaving everything familiar behind him. He convinces himself that he will find peace in the mountains. Unfortunately, with the growing tension between the US Army and the native population, Will finds himself confronted with yet another war. I thought Will’s depiction was absolutely sublime. Ross has depicted Will’s extremely fragile mental health with a clear understanding of what we would now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. With no mental health help, Will must look inwards to drag himself out of the abyss of misery and guilt that is slowly destroying him. Will’s determination and his struggle to find the peace he so desperately desires and deserves saw me reaching for the tissues on more than one occasion. There is an honesty to Will’s character, which made him not only exceedingly likeable, but also profoundly real in the telling. On a side-note, although based upon an actual historical person, William Dorsey Crump (1844–1940), Ross admits in his historical notes that his portrayal of Will during this period is fictional, as there are no primary sources that explain what he was doing during this period of his life.
The other protagonist is the beautiful Dove, the niece of Chief Washakie. In this novel, Dove struggles to understand her feelings for Will—he is a white man and therefore her enemy. Having survived the butchering at Bear River, it is no wonder as to why she holds these views. But she cannot deny that Will had saved her life and continues to do so. I thought Dove’s depiction was truly fabulous. She is this strong woman who knows that what she has found with Will is true love, but there are so many obstacles set between them that being together seems next to impossible. But still, she insists and is determined to find a compromise between her beliefs and Will’s. I adored Dove. She is this marvelously rounded heroine who has seen her fair share of death, but she holds onto hope, and she cherishes the love which she discovers with Will. Dove was a character that I came to care deeply about.
Race and conflict are explored in all of their ugly details throughout this novel. Ross not only examines the violent clash of two profoundly different cultures, but he also scrutinizes the impact of a swiftly changing world to the Indian population. The greed for land and the natural resources this rich and unspoilt frontier had to offer was more important than the lives of those who lived there. The white settlers, and in particular the army, saw the native population as a savage nuisance that must be dealt with. The Bear Rivers Massacre is briefly mentioned in this novel, as is the US Army’s determination to mount an expedition into Powder River Country. But what I found especially sickening was the soldiers’ excitement about their vile orders to kill Indians on sight–no quarter was to be given. This government-backed genocide made for some sobering reading. What made a bad situation even worse was that the natives, who were still trying to hold on to their way of life, still insisted on fighting each other. Ross subtly asks his readers were the native American’s any different from their white brothers? The white settlers claimed land that did not belong to them, but the Indians fought to preserve their territories. In no way does Ross condone the genocide and abject cruelty and brutality which the natives faced, he does however try to show his readers a few small similarities between the two.
Another race-related topic which Ross depicts is that of interracial romance. Will and Dove’s relationship is very tender and sweet. But they both come from two vastly different worlds. They are realistic about the difficulties which their relationship would face. Dove is keenly aware that she would never fit into the white man’s world, and that Will would never give up his God to fit into hers. This ill-fated love was exquisitely told, and I was rooting for them to find the happiness that they both deserved.
Ross has explored the unpredictability of nature, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Nature is the physical frontier which dictates not only the narrative but also the war between the US Army and the natives. It is the driving force that brings Will and Dove together, but it is also what nearly tears them apart. Ross has given his readers a setting that is on the one hand breathtakingly beautiful but on the other is thwarted with danger. It also fascinated me how the Indians used the knowledge of the land to their own advantage.
Ross has penned a novel that is as impressive in its sweep as it is in detail. Ross has a large canvas in which to tell his story, and he has done so with the utmost care to the attention of the historical detail while leaving out none of the historical controversies. The treatment of the native population and their retaliation has been explored with a keen understanding of this period in history. At times the tension in this story is almost unbearable as our brave protagonists' battle, not only to stay alive but to stay together in a world that wants to tear them apart. Ross has brought a very tragic but very fascinating era back to life in a story which is so brilliant that it is impossible to turn away from.
Unlike before in The Clouds of War (Across the Great Divide: Book 1) where there were multiple points of view, in The Search the story is focused on Will and Dove. I thought this was a wise move, as Will and Dove’s story is utterly enthralling, and it also means that this book stands firmly on its own two feet. One certainly does not have to read the first book at all to enjoy The Search.
The Search (Across the Great Divide Book 2) by Michael Ross is a novel which gripped me from the opening sentence to the last full stop. It is, in all ways, an absolute triumph.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde The Coffee Pot Book Club
Pick up your copy:
Michael L. Ross
Best-selling author Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He's a retired software engineer turned author, with three children and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of forty years. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. The main character of "Across the Great Divide", William Dorsey Crump, is one of the founders of Lubbock and Shallowater, Texas. Michael knew Will's granddaughter when he was a child. He has written a scholarly article on Will Crump for the Texas Historical Society, published in the Handbook of Texas Online, and has sold short stories in the past. This is his first novel and the first in the Across the Great Divide series, now an Amazon bestseller.
Michael attended Rice University as an undergraduate, and Portland State University for his graduate degree. He has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves to go fishing, riding horses, and play with his grandchildren, who are currently all under six years old.
He sees many parallels between the time of the Civil War and our divided nation of today. Sanctuary cities, immigration, arguments around the holiday table, threats of secession - all are nothing new. Sometimes, to understand the present, you have to look at the past- and reach Across the Great Divide.
Social Media Links: