Book Review | Sunrise by Jacquelyn Cook
From Amazon: The true love story behind one of Georgia’s most famous antebellum mansions. In the 1850’s Anne Tracy, a smart and well-educated young woman from the stifled but elegant world of Macon, Georgia, made a polite marriage with an older, wealthy merchant, William Butler Johnson. The unlikely pairing blossomed into a romantic and devoted marriage. The Butlers’ wide travels through 1850’s Europe inspired them to return to Macon and build an incredible Italianate mansion. Through the trials and tribulations of family tragedy and later the Civil War, the Butlers maintained an amazing legacy and an amazing home.
This book started out slowly for me. I knew it was based on the marriage of Anne Tracy and William B. Johnston I just didn’t know we, the readers, were going to spend page upon page of the book on their extended honeymoon in Europe. The honeymoon was three years and getting through the first half of this book felt that way also. The marriage between Anne and William always seems to be filled with tension as neither was articulate nor sure in the ways of showing their love for the other. There is a 20-year age difference between these two and I believe this most likely lead to their difficulties especially given the times they lived in. Also their marriage was rocked by loss and almost endless heartache in raising a family they so desired.
Once the Johnston’s return to the states and we move on to the escalating tension between the North and South things start to pick up. Mr. Johnston played a prominent part in the war effort on behalf of the South though his sentiments seemed as have sided with the North. The tension this must have caused for him isn’t explored as much as I would have liked but then it maybe that there isn’t a lot of available history surrounding this area of their lives. While Mr. Johnston travels and works to support the South’s war effort Anne is left, as most women are, to care for loved ones near and far. She keeps that house running, protects those close to her, and works tirelessly to see that life moves forward. It seems strange to experience this after the number of years that have passed since this war but every time I read about the tragic deaths and extreme suffering of these families my heart still aches for them.
While this is a work of fiction it is based on fact. There are some very interesting characters that populate this book. One that readily comes to mind besides Anne and William is Sidney Lanier. When I first read the name I thought it was familiar but I couldn’t place it. As his story unfolds you come to find out he is a renowned poet, scholar and musician.
I ended up enjoying this book and found it a pleasant slice of historical time I love reading about.