Saturday, October 3, 2015

Review of "A Basket Brigade Christmas: Three Women, Three Love Stories, One Country Divided"

Review of A Basket Brigade Christmas: Three Women, Three Love Stories, One Country Divided

by Judith Miller, Nancy Moser, & Stephanie Grace Whitson


Not even the Civil War can smother the spirit of Christmas, especially in the town of Decatur, Illinois, in 1862, where the ladies of the Basket Brigade board trains to minister to Union soldiers, offering fried chicken, pickled peaches, pound cake, and other dainties to men who haven’t eaten a home-cooked meal since enlisting. Join Sarah, Lucy, and Zona, three compassionate members of the brigade, as they care for wounded heroes—and find love along the way.
A Stitch in Time by Stephanie Grace Whitson:  Late September 1862, Decatur, Illinois, the Civil War has divided families and hearts and now Lucy Maddox's community has experienced their first personal loss.   Lucy has lost her neighbor and one true love to the war, but Jonah Kincaid only considered her a friend.  That does not stop the ache in her heart or the loss of his family and the small community.   Lucy steps up to help his grieving mother with the Ladies' Aid as she can not serve as the president while in her year of grieving and mourning.   Lucy remembers the young men she has ministered to on the trains as she helped deliver baskets of food to the soldiers say how cold they were and she has the idea to open her home to the ladies of the community to sew blankets and knit socks for the men.   The ladies also begin including letters to the soldiers with the blankets and socks and Lucy develops a growing correspondence with one of the soldiers while her faithful employee, Silas, continues to manage and run their mercantile and help her efforts with the Ladies Aid project.  Two men are interested in Lucy but who will win her heart?   

MY REVIEW of A Stitch in Time by Stephanie Grace Whitson:  What courage Lucy shows as she is alone in the world with both her parents deceased and she willingly opens her home to the ladies of the community to lend comfort to the soldiers.   Her father was always opposed to inviting people into their home or rather their mansion but her mother was always doing whatever she could to help others and would certainly smile at Lucy's efforts.   Silas quietly helps Lucy while secretly longing to marry her and protect her forever while Lucy gets involved with a soldier she has been corresponding with but Silas and several others are suspicious of Private Greene.  Readers will enjoy seeing what happens with Private Greene, Silas, and Lucy as well as the ladies work on the blankets and socks.   
       I rate this novella 4 stars and think readers of historical fiction will enjoy it.

A Pinch of Love by Judith Miller:  October 1862, Decatur, Illinois,Sarah McHenry is helping her parents run the family bakery alone while her twin brother, Samuel, is away fighting for the Union.  Sarah now has the added burden of her mother's sudden illness.  Her mother has been in charge of the Basket Brigade (a group of local women who carry hot meals to the wounded soldiers on the train each day) and she begs Sarah to take over her duties while she is ill and confined to bed.   Sarah has never helped her mother with the project because she simply could not bear to look at the wounded young men, knowing her brother could well be hurt somewhere as his letters were few and far between.   Sarah is a loving, dutiful daughter though and so she reluctantly agrees.   She is extremely anxious as she begins the work.   But she soon has a change of heart when she meets the handsome, kind Corporal Jacob Curtis, assigned as aide to assist the wounded in the railcar she is serving food to and he puts himself at her ready disposal as well.   They begin exchanging letters each time they meet to serve the soldiers since their time together is limited and they both desire to get to know the other better.   Will love grow for this young couple or will the irritating, manipulative local man, Matthew, win her over despite her distaste for him?   

MY REVIEW of A Pinch of Love by Judith Miller:  I could actually imagine the delightful smells of the stews, soups, breads, coffee and desserts as Sarah and the Basket Brigade served the wounded young soldiers.   The compassion that Sarah shows to the young men was so touching and I could not help but think that she would be an amazing nurse.   She shows the same tender care and compassion for her mother as she tends to her needs.  It is hard to imagine that she felt she was unsuited for the position with her mother's group of ladies.  She imagines that each of the young men could easily be her own twin brother, Samuel, and she hopes and prays that some kind soul is treating him with the same love and concern that she shares with the young men on the train.   
         The tension between Sarah and Matthew, the manipulative and abusive young local man, add to the intrigue of this novella as well as the budding relationship between her and Jacob.  What path will Sarah choose for her life or will she simply resign herself to running her parents' bakery for them and never marrying and having a family of her own?  This novella was my favorite among the collection and I have long been a fan of Judith Miller's writing so it came as no surprise.   
        I rate this novella 5 stars and think that readers will also give it high ratings.

Endless Melody by Nancy Moser:  November, 1862, Decatur, Illionois, Zona Evans, the young single musician of the community always heads up the church Christmas musicale and this year presents new challenges.   One of the local prominent rich ladies has always had a solo in the musicale but her singing leaves much to be desired, will Zona have the nerve to leave her out this year and invoke the wrath of the woman and her family?  One of the young boys who has always participated is experiencing the voice change that accompanies puberty.  How will he ever be replaced?   And one young man has the voice of an angel but his grandfather forbids him from singing.   How can she convince his grandfather to allow little Johnny to use his gift?  She was to marry Cardiff Kensington fifteen years ago but he left to fight in the Mexican War and she never heard from him again.  Little did she know that he wrote letters to her for years but her parents hid them from her.   Will they find each other again?   or is all hope gone?

MY REVIEW of Endless Melody by Nancy Moser:  Singing is a favorite activity of mine and so this novella touched many special nerves and memories for me.   It was truly moving to imagine the church group singing Christmas carols for the wounded soldiers on the train as the Basket Brigade ladies served them warm, nourishing food.   I felt empathy for Zona and Cardiff as they each thought the other had deserted them.   Readers will delight in seeing how things are resolved for Zona, Cardiff and little Johnny.  
       I rate this novella 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers.   Those who love historical fiction and romance are sure to appreciate this novella.  A bonus feature includes actual recipes that were used in the time period and some that were served to the men on the trains.  
       I received an ebook of this collection from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Authors:
Judith McCoy Miller

Judith McCoy Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.  Connect with Judith here:

Nancy Moser

Nancy Moser is the author of three inspirational humor books and a 24 novels, including The Journey of Josephine Cain, Mozart's Sister, Washington's Lady, A Patchwork Christmas Collection, An Unlikely Suitor and Time Lottery, a Christy Award winner. She is an inspirational speaker, giving seminars around the country, as well as dramatizations in costume as Martha Washington. She has earned a degree in architecture; run a business with her husband; traveled extensively in Europe; and has performed in various theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She and her husband have three grown children and make their home in the Midwest. Read more about her books at

Stephanie Grace Whitson

A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four homeschooled children Nebraska history, she was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie's fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year. Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.  Connect with Stephanie here:

1 comment:

  1. Looks like it will be a great book! Enjoyed the blog post.


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