Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Life Untold by S.S. Gee Buro

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Author
Read: February 10, 2014

“I do not pen this memoir as a confession or justification of my sins. It is neither to convince you, nor myself, that the life I lived held meaning and was fulfilling. I had been content to let the story I now write die with me and all knowledge of it remain untold...” The house of Stone Croft lies at the doorstep of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. When the man Magda Kline loves joins the 11th Pennsylvania, she soon learns that the innocence of her heart cannot survive in the war ravaged land.

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S.S. Gee Buro's My Life Untold is an interesting indie pub. It has a few rough spots, but generally speaking, I feel it speaks very well of authors Sean and Sarah. 

What exactly do I mean by rough spots? Well, the story meanders through a lot of superfluous backstory before finding its feet. It isn't bad material so don't go grabbing up your torch and pitchforks just yet, all I'm saying is elements like the pocket watch incident and Magda's relationship with Irenka have no real significance to the primary plot. They're interesting enough, but they drag down the pacing and feel disconnected when considered alongside the central storyline. 

The ending is similarly incohesive. Rushed and overflowing with an abundance of surplus, I again felt there was room to cut the fat. I know it's easy to get wrapped up in a story when you're putting it to paper, but there is a lot to be said for knowing when to stop. When it gets down to it, it's good to remember that less is more. 

Now that being said, the middle was actually quite satisfying. I might have liked to see a bit more character development, but the course of events that follow Magda's arrival at Stone Croft are wonderfully imagined and thoroughly enjoyable. Sean and Sarah's straightforward and unapologetic descriptions of the battle of Gettysburg, its aftermath, and the conditions of the Andersonville prison camp were brilliantly authentic and I really appreciate how they were able to illustrate such iconic episodes of American history through the eyes of a civilian standing witness to the Civil War.

My Life Untold isn’t perfect, but it is certainly worth looking into. The authors have room to grow, but their efforts show real promise and it will be very interesting to see where they choose to take their readers in the future. 

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It is with a very heavy heart that I send this letter to you. The war has reached a point that was not expected and my infantry has been mustered in on this day for three more years. I am doubtful this war will go on so long, but my duty to this country is to answer when called upon. I have vowed to give my life for this cause and if that is the price asked of me, I give it freely. But it is you I have given my heart to darling one, do not ever forget this. When you watch a sunset think of me, for I also am beneath the same sun with you.
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