I’m re-reading this fascinating bit of history that took place in Georgia just after the Civil War, and will review the work here in three parts.For creative license, the author has changed the names from Wardlaw to Mortlow.
The story opens with three Wardlaw sisters, Vertiline, Carolee, and Mary, on trial for the murder of Carolee’s daughter, Orphelia. Between court sessions, they are housed in a particularly disgusting jail, kept in cells far from one another. Vertiline, the eldest, tries to keep control of the situation, or at least control of her younger siblings. Carolee and Mary. But of course she was not in control of anything. Not anymore.
Carolee and Mary, twins, have an almost supernatural connection of communication, but as the trial goes on, Mary appears to lose the will to live, and pressure mounts on Vertiline.
Clark draws on his vast experience and knowledge of Civil War society in this book, interspersing a lot of the women’s history in the war-torn south. There’s a reason the three were charged with this crime, and he paints a very disturbing picture of their upbringing with a father who was a harsh disciplinarian.
In the Author’s Note, Clark discusses the fact that very little information is available about these women and their personalities, or their inner lives. This is the fictional part. The horror of their lives and deeds is pure fact.
I’ll continue my assessment of this book as I continue reading.