As I started to read White Doves at Morning I really didn’t think that I was going to like it even though I have enjoyed all of writer James Lee Burke’s works that I have read. Set mostly in the South and during the Civil War and during subsequent reconstruction the novel started somewhat slow for me. I felt the storyline was traveling down a path well trodden by many others. But I was wrong.
The novel is a historical fiction and some knowledge of the Civil War, the battles, and the devastation were an enormous help for me and gave the story more depth for me. We follow the central characters as they deal with the ravages of slavery, war, and the aftermath and move in and out of each other’s lives. There is much cruelty and much love all adding up to a compelling novel. As usual for one of Mr. Burke’s books, his ability to set the scene is unparalleled.
“In the pit of his stomach was an emptiness he could not fill or rid himself of. When the sun broke through the clouds that had sealed the sky for days, lighting the hardwood forest in the distance, a bilious liquid surged out of his stomach into the back of his mouth and his bowels slid in and out of his rectum. A vinegary reek rose from his armpits into his nostrils, not the smell of ordinary sweat that comes from work or even tramping miles along a hard-packed dirt road, but the undisguised glandular stench of fear….What’s that place up yonder called…It’s called Shiloh. That’s it, Shiloh Church.”