It’s funny sometimes how my schedule of reading lines up. I’ve commented on it before. There was one horrific period where I ended up reading nothing but WWI and WWII books for almost three months straight. Plus some others in the course of the same year. It put me off books from the time period. This year it seems the Civil War is becoming popular again in literature. I’m not overloaded….yet. But I do find it amusing how these things play out. I was contacted by the author of Of Ashes and Dust and he sent me a copy of his book at no cost for me to review. Read on to see what I thought.
About Of Ashes and Dust:
Jim Robbins is a dead man, and he knows it. He’s fought Yankee and Pawnee, fought for the love of two very different women, fought for his very survival. Now, as the scenes of his life flash before him, his greatest struggle is about to begin.
Wounded in a railroad explosion, Jim reviews those moments that shaped him. From the inequities of the Antebellum South, to the horrors of the American Civil War, to the juggernaut of westward expansion, he played his part in the events that forged a nation―and not always for the better.
In his debut novel, Marc Graham explores what it is that defines a life. Is there meaning and purpose, or is it all just a series of accidents? Is a man simply the victim of circumstance, or maker of his own destiny? Perhaps most important, do his choices and actions survive him, or is his life but a stirring of ashes and dust?
About the Author:
Marc Graham is an actor, singer, bard, engineer, Freemason, and whisky aficionado (Macallan 18, one ice cube). When not on stage, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found traipsing about Colorado’s Front Range with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
This novel starts of with a bang – literally. Jim Robbins, the hero of the tale gets blown up while helping to lay new railroad in Australia. As he lays dying he looks back on his life – the good, the bad and yes, the ugly. He goes all the way back to his childhood on the family farm where his father worked for the rich neighbor until he was severely injured, through the Civil War, westward expansion and more.
Jim was a young man who due to his upbringing should have finished his life much as it started – poor and uneducated but he was given an opportunity to better himself and he took advantage of whatever he could. He loved to read and he learned a valuable trade that would carry him forward the rest of his life.
This book touches on so many themes from slavery – including the treatment of slaves and runaway slaves – class differences, Masonry, immigrant policies, Indian policies and more. It’s a lot of controversy to cover in one man’s life and yet it does somehow all work. Jim is a fascinating character and a complex one. He does seem to suffer from more than his fair share of tragedy and I, being a hopeful soul was a touch distressed by this. But life is not always about the happy ending. This was a thought provoking, page turner of a book.