A couple years ago, I read Robert Morgan’s biography, Boone, and loved it. I did not need any arm twisting to pick up his work of historical fiction entitled, Brave Enemies.
The story begins in the 1780’s, where teenage Josie Summers is faced with an abusive step-father. Terrible events ensue and she is forced to flee, disguising herself as a boy. Her journey eventually takes her a camp of American soldiers, which she joins, and ultimately ends up at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina.
I still think Robert Morgan has much to his credit. It was a good story, and it is obvious that he is well-versed in Revolutionary War history. His descriptions of the Battle of Cowpens were riveting and impressive.
There were a few areas of story that gave me pause for question. First, when Josie celebrates Christmas, she puts up a Christmas tree. Only Germans used Christmas trees at that time, and while there were some German settlements in the Carolinas at the time, they were few, isolated and also spoke German instead of English. Morgan never gives the impression that Josie was German, so why the Christmas tree?
Second, when she meets Reverend John Trethman, a circuit preacher, we discover that he has no gun nor a hunting knife. It left me with all kinds of questions. How does he eat? Was it common for circuit preachers to give up weapons of all kinds? Or was this simply a fictional fact placed by Morgan so his character wouldn’t be killed by the Redcoats?
Lastly, when Josie’s true gender is discovered by a fellow soldier, he tells her he knows she is pregnant. How does he know? She is supposedly still in the morning sickness phase, so I doubt she would be showing.
I suppose that is the difficulty with historical fiction. Authors need to make sure there are no questions hanging in the air. Still, I did enjoy the book very much.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2003