It is the tale of a tough, determined woman from the Civil War who isn’t named Scarlett.
“Gathering Leaves,” by Ron Meszaros is a love story, a history lesson, the tale of a strong woman, a war story, a dog lover’s story, and an example of faith that is sprinkled with curse words — all appropriately placed, of course. It’s also my favorite book I’ve read in a very long time.
Meszaros, of Fairhope, Alabama, wrote this fast-paced tale of a proper Southern woman in the 1800’s who is soft hearted yet tough as nails. The main character, Caroline, will give you an accurate glimpse of what your great-great-grandmother may have endured when times were tough, food was short, and the Union Army was lurking nearby.
Caroline, the sweet mother of three, is equal parts Scarlett O’Hara, Daniel Boone, and Rocky Balboa. Her tale is moonlight and magnolias topped with blisters and near starvation. When Caroline needs to reach her wounded husband, over 190 miles away, her perseverance overshadows the horrors of a woman traveling alone during wartime.
In all honesty, Gathering Leaves didn’t initially sound like something I wanted to read, but after the first few pages, I was hooked. It was fast-paced, in a way I appreciate. There were no long, drawn-out overly descriptive passages that bore my eyes shut. There wasn’t one paragraph I was tempted to skim over (oh, you know you do it too), with quite the opposite happening. I found myself going back and rereading some of the passages to make sure I absorbed every detail. It was like licking the spoon after stirring the chocolate. You want to make sure you get every drop.
Yes, there were and still are dangers in this world, with plenty of people who want to hurt us and destroy our plans, but as Caroline’s story reminds us, there are also people who pour kindness onto us when we least expect it. God certainly can be felt watching over us and guiding us through the wicked storms of life.
“Gathering Leaves” starts the action early and continues until the end with twists and turns you don’t see coming. It’s a marathon of motion and clever calculations.
Even though the main character is a woman and the book will therefore appeal to women, it’s also a brutal fact-driven war story that will also entertain men. Of all the fascinating subplots of the book, my favorite was the portrayal of the loyal dog to his new mistress. I got choked up when that dirty old dog limped to her side in an act of devoted affection.
The story was captivating, and I’m so happy it ended well – but not how I expected. There were surprise hooks and twists up until the very end. I love a book with good closure, and “Gathering Leaves” satisfied me with the characters, story, and ideas of strength and determination. It’s the kind of book that makes you happy to have known the characters, and you miss them when they’re gone. After darling Caroline almost drowned, starved, and was nearly shot by Yankees while attempting to reach her husband, I’ll never complain again about having to pick my husband up from the airport.
Gathering Leaves by Ron Meszaros is available at Amazon. You can also find it in Fairhope Alabama at Page and Palette Bookstore. Ron's book release party will be held at Page and Palette on January 23rd at 6pm.