4 out of 4 stars
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When people died in the mid-eighteen hundreds, it was common for families to employ the skills of warners and weepers. Warners would ensure the dead were ready for burial, and weepers were paid to attend funerals and weep for those who had passed. While both were crucial aids for the families in mourning, they did not mix—they most certainly did not fall in love.
Married warner, Archer True, is besotted with weeper, Charlotte Fenn. They carry on a secret affair, which results in Charlotte becoming pregnant. Knowing they can never be together, Charlotte agrees to allow Archer and his wife to take her baby, Augustus, and raise him as their own. Charlotte is heartbroken and secretly tries to follow Augustus' movements over the years.
Augustus True has always been treated differently than his siblings—it seemed like his very presence irritated Mrs. True, who didn't hide her disdain for him. When he and his brother, Jefferson, are sent away to a prestigious military school, he is excited about the experience. Still, he quickly learns that his happiness is premature when it is revealed that his parents sold him to the school to work as payment for Jefferson's education.
Why would his parents do this to him, and how will he overcome other cadets' constant bullying?
Weeper by Greg Morgan is a story about love, loss, and resilience. The emotionally driven book spans the decades between 1840 and 1887—starting in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. The family saga is written from the third-person perspective. It follows Charlotte Fenn, Archer True, and Augustus True as they grapple with war, illness, and losing loved ones. At nearly four hundred pages, the reading journey was long but unequivocally rewarding.
In the past, I tended to steer clear of historical fiction. In particular, stories that took place during the war, but am I ever happy that I chose to push aside my previous reservations to make room for this literary gem! One of my favorite aspects of the story was learning tidbits about the battles that took place during the Civil War, and, of course, the eye-opening world of the funeral business. Maybe I had been living under a rock, but before being enlightened by the author, I had no prior knowledge regarding the art of weeping.
I fell in love with Augustus' character—from his troublesome childhood stutter to his sheer determination to rise above his parents' reprehensible behavior, he continuously showed he was able to weather any storm. Moreover, I was delighted to learn that he earned his stripes not by fighting in the war, but by caring for the severely injured. I always cheer for the underdog, and in this case, I was cheering for Augustus. Needless to say, his character evolution was my favorite part of the book.
I feel compelled to talk about the author's decision to explore the plight of forbidden love. While there were many heartbreaking scenes, I commend the author for providing the harsh reality—sometimes love, on its own, isn't enough. Sometimes, the odds are not stacked in our favor, and the stars cannot align.
While I could sing the book's praises from the top of my lungs, the writing had one irksome quality. I found that the story was going along at a relatively steady pace until the last quarter. Without giving anything away, I was surprised by a specific outcome, which led to me having to go back a few chapters to see if I'd missed something. It turns out, I didn't miss anything, but the scene of importance was absent from the story. The author could easily rectify this by making sure to expand upon changes to important relationships.
Weeper was impressively written, and I found no issues with grammar or spelling. It was beautifully formatted and had insightful quotes at the beginning of each chapter. With that being said, I believe this masterpiece deserves the highest rating. I have chosen to give the book a rating of four out of four stars—it's character-driven, unique, and undeniably endearing.
I would recommend the book to readers who are fans of family dramas spanning many years. Those who love books that take place around the nineteenth century will enjoy this period piece. I would not recommend the book to readers looking for a quick, light read; Weeper is long and emotionally taxing.
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