Did I like it?
I did NOT like it, Sam-I-Am.
Basically, the story is told in alternate chapters. In the odd chapters, the story follows a wounded Civil War soldier, Inman, who has left the army hospital and is heading home on foot cross-country, trying to avoid being caught by the Home Guard and getting either shot or forced back into the Confederate army.
In the even chapters, the story follows his sweetheart, Ada, who is a minister's daughter (minister just died) and is living on a farm that she doesn't know the first thing about running. I liked these chapters for the most part, because I've always liked stories about survival and learning how to use what you have to get along.
I did NOT like Inman's chapters. He's a hardened Civil War vet who is determined to not to go back to war. He's a very nice guy, but I hated the story. At every turn, one of the three things happens:
1. Someone or something tries to kill him
2. Someone or something befriends him, and then betrays him to people that try to kill him
3. He encounters someone nice, whose story is unaccountably tragic and sad.
The story introduces these people for just long enough for you to form an emotional attachment to them...and then they die. Gorily. Miserably. I grant you, this is the Civil War and more misery happened with that than I can ever attempt to imagine. But...meh.
Of course, Inman *miraculously* survives all of these encounters (getting shot several times). In one or two he intentionally tried not to kill anyone, and they died ANYWAY. I hate violent movies. I had never before read a book as violent as this, and I didn't like it. Anyway, he survives everything. Then he gets home, spends one or two nights with his long-missed sweetheart (and they have sex the 2nd night, of course).
At this point, I'm like: "gads, there's no way he can wrap this up in just one chapter without killing him off. Is he getting killed off? He'd better not get killed off. Dangit, he's going to die, I just know it."
Of course, they killed him off!
In the next-to-last chapter, for no particular reason...in a lame situation that he could have easily handled, saving the life of the character I liked least in the book. In front of his sweetheart.
I'm not a person that always needs a happy ending. I don't like books that are contrived. But pathos for the sake of pathos is annoying and unnecessary, and very emotionally draining. I'll not read that book again. I'll give myself a paper cut and be content.