With Great Sorrow | Critical Book Review

Lisa Boyle’s With Great Sorrow delves into the intricate dance between necessity and futility within the brutal backdrop of the Civil War. Erin Britton unfolds the layers of this indie historical novel, revealing a narrative that oscillates between horror and inspiration.


The Unflinching Gaze

Casting an unwavering eye on the impacts of the American Civil War, With Great Sorrow paints a vivid picture of both battlefield chaos and the struggles on the home front. The narrative, part of Boyle’s The Paddy series, follows the tenacious Irish immigrants, Rosaleen and Emmett Doherty, as they navigate a life of purpose amidst the turmoil of Lowell, Massachusetts.


A Bittersweet Christmas Tale

Set in December 1861, the narrative takes a poignant turn as Emmett joins the Irish Brigade, leaving Rosaleen to grapple with her own contribution to the war effort through poignant “Signed, a Paddy” letters. As the narrative unfolds, the couple’s fight for justice intertwines with the harsh realities of war, challenging their ideals and motivations.


Navigating Diverging Perspectives

Boyle skillfully weaves a tapestry of contrasting opinions, particularly regarding the abolition of slavery, as seen through Rosaleen’s eyes during a trip to Boston. The narrative echoes the bleakness of Emmett’s letters from the battlefield, unveiling the widespread suffering and death that haunts the war.


Questioning Motives and Wisdom

As the war persists, the couple and their comrades begin questioning their motives for supporting the conflict and the wisdom of those in authority. Emmett grapples with both external enemies and internal strife, while Rosaleen faces the challenges of being left behind, all against the backdrop of a nation torn apart.


A Desperate Search

The narrative takes a darker turn when letters from Emmett cease, leaving Rosaleen desperate and striking a dangerous bargain to uncover the fate of her beloved. With Great Sorrow masterfully narrates this harrowing journey from the dual perspectives of Rosaleen and Emmett, providing a microcosmic view of historical events.


A Realistic Portrayal

Boyle, in her Author’s Note, establishes the historical authenticity of the narrative, and it reflects in the dialogue and action that ring true for the period. The characters, complex and multifaceted, mirror the duality of real people facing momentous circumstances.


Complex Characters and Divergent Motives

In the face of war, With Great Sorrow paints a realistic portrait of characters like Rosaleen and Emmett, who, despite their realism and idealism, grapple with complex motives. The supporting cast presents contrasting opinions on slavery, adding depth to the characters and mirroring the societal complexities of the time.


Emotive Exploration of Human Resilience

Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, With Great Sorrow serves as a powerful exploration of how individuals are molded by pivotal events. Boyle propels Rosaleen and Emmett through adversity, scrutinizing the lengths they go to safeguard their beliefs amidst the chaos. The narrative promises more trials for the couple, leaving readers eager for the next chapter in The Paddy series.

Publisher, Genre, Print Length, ISBN

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
IndieBookViewHistorical Fiction / Civil War404 pages978-1736607756

Lisa Boyle’s With Great Sorrow delves into the intricate dance between necessity and futility within the brutal backdrop of the Civil War. Erin Britton unfolds the layers of this indie historical novel, revealing a narrative that oscillates between horror and inspiration. The Unflinching Gaze Casting an unwavering eye on the impacts of the American Civil…