Review of Measure of Devotion by C.F. Frizzell
July 3rd was the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and I just finished Measure of Devotion which centers on a Union soldier fighting in the American Civil War. Catherine Samson is disguised as her late twin brother, Cooper, and no one is the wiser as she is only one of the millions engaged on the battlefields.
Measure of Devotion is without a doubt, one of the best books that I’ve read this year. With a story involving famous events, there’s the danger of losing a casual reader because of the in-depth historical content. The author avoids miring the reader in backstory by using the very first sentence to insert us into the frantic chaos of a smoky battleground. Partly told in 3rd person from Cooper’s pov, I was immediately invested in her well-being. She’s brave and honorable, in constant danger, not only because of the enemy but also because the risk of discovery is ever-present. You can’t help but be drawn to her indomitable spirit.
By no means is this a gimmicky tale with a superficial war background. The author skillfully intermingles real-life details of horrific events that are brought to life by Cooper and her best friend, Tim, who fight for the end of slavery and for the country to stay whole. It’s an amazing balance of facts and fiction that remains potent throughout the book. There’s never a moment where I felt the story repeated itself. Each hill, every river crossing held its own challenges and heartbreak for Cooper and Tim.
The other main character, Sophie Bauer, is a volunteer with the Ladies Aid Society. The women follow behind the Union Army in wagons and assist in any way they can, mostly helping the wounded. Sophie is a sweetheart with a side of spitfire. She displays compassion and fortitude tending to the injured men who are housed in makeshift hospitals that are brutally inadequate.
Cooper and Sophie meet in the first chapter and are immediately struck by one another. What ensues is an old-fashioned courtship and romance that brings light into the tragic setting. The tenderness that Sophie and Cooper show each other could melt an iceberg. Their chemistry and simple touches are a subdued fire.
The book has a satisfying ending but the war is not over at that point. Also, there are some lingering questions so I’m hoping for at least one more book. I strongly believe Measure of Devotion will appeal to fans beyond the subject matter. If you appreciate strong characters, good writing, and a touching love story, by all means, read Measure of Devotion. 5+ stars
One personal note, these are difficult times, a time when we want to honor those who sacrificed for our freedoms but we also want to acknowledge the deficits that exist for so many here in our country. I felt that heart-tug while I read this book. It doesn’t take a historian to see the divisive parallels of those years with our own, how those roots and seeds of our American past left their mark and so to this day, still detrimentally affect so many Americans. The author of this book navigated and walked the fine line of telling our American story with respect and truth.