Stone Field by Christy Lenzi
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Publish Date: March 29, 2016
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon
In a small town on the brink of the Civil War, Catrina finds a man making strange patterns in her family’s sorghum crop. He’s mad with fever, naked, and strikingly beautiful. He has no memory of who he is or what he’s done before Catrina found him in Stone Field. But that doesn’t bother Catrina because she doesn’t like thinking about the things she’s done before either.
Catrina and Stonefield fall passionately, dangerously, in love. All they want is to live with each other, in harmony with the land and away from Cat’s protective brother, the new fanatical preacher, and the neighbors who are scandalized by their relationship. But Stonefield can’t escape the truth about who he is, and the conflict tearing apart the country demands that everyone take a side before the bloodbath reaches their doorstep.
Inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. (from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: I became enamored with the cover of Stone Field by Christy Lenzi as soon as I received it in the mail for review because it truly is one of the more stunning covers I’ve seen in a while. But it wasn’t only the outside of this book that had my heart all aflutter. The description of a book…inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights…set on a farm during the Civil War? Just the sound of it made me feel gleeful. I absolutely love historical fiction, especially when it is set during the Civil War Era. And I adore Wuthering Heights.
Did it meet my expectations? Yes. Stone Field is a worthy retelling of Ms. Bronte’s classic – one of the better retellings of any book that I’ve ever read, actually. Ms. Lenzi’s characters touch on those of Wuthering Heights so well and yet they all are strong enough to stand firmly on their own without the famous classic story. They are odd and eccentric and in some cases, unlikable. I could talk for a long time about these two books and how they are similar/different and the very cool ways that Ms. Lenzi retold this story.
But I really want to talk about the historical fiction aspect of this book because I’m obsessed with historical fiction and in Stone Field, you cannot have the retelling without the historical fiction. The two cannot be separated.
The story is set during and around actual events that took place in history: the Civil War, the Missouri Compromise, etc. Good historical fiction, I think, does this – it settles itself around something real so that the reader has some basis for comparison or a starting off point, if you will. Many of us know about these events that led up to the Civil War and in this story, having this time and place was the perfect setting for a tense and almost-angry part of the country that had a volatile political climate. Using the state of Missouri probably couldn’t have been a better choice because of the mixture of opinions and beliefs at that exact time.
Along with the romance and the characterization, both of which are very large parts of the retelling aspect, lies this undercurrent of tension and the feeling that a change is about to happen. Roubidoux Hollow is a fictional town that is based on a very real place, so having a community in this story that is divided and split and disagreeable about slaves and about which side to fight for is huge. AND! It is historically accurate. Stone Field, our love interest, is a person of color and because of this, he is a target for soldiers and soldier wannabes all over the area.
There are also people in the story that just want to be left out of the conflict, that do not want to choose a side. There are these huge themes of social/race inequality, gender inequality, religion that are present in here, and to me they seem to make more sense to the story when I think of them in terms of the historical time period and setting versus the retelling aspect.
I think that making Ms. Lenzi’s story a historical fiction rather than, say, a contemporary or science fiction, gave it emotional depth and I loved seeing how it all fit together.
Of course, historical fiction doesn’t always have characters like Catrina and Stone Field. What I mean is that historical fiction doesn’t always have characters that can talk to one another with their minds, without moving their mouths. Characters that fall into a passionate, all-consuming love on first glance, without even having to have a conversation to know they’re the one for each other. These little details fall back into the realm of this particular retelling, but they do make this historical fiction more interesting, particularly for readers that also enjoy Wuthering Heights.
Ultimately, I loved this story. I read this and immediately wanted to pick up the classic once again. It was thrilling in some parts and some parts were tragic. It required suspension of disbelief (just like the original classic does) and is not perfect. But it has lovely language and a compelling plot. It also has historical significance in the YA market. This book is possibly (probably?) not for everyone. Some readers will not make it past the love that Catrina has for Stone Field when she sees him for the first time. But I can imagine that many or hopefully most fans of the original classic will appreciate this retelling as a pretty doggone good one. I mean, I want the people that read this one to see the things in it that I do.
I think it is just as safe and accurate to see this book as a historical fiction than as a retelling, and I would like for historical fiction readers to know this. Loving Wuthering Heights probably makes loving this one a unique experience, but you do not have to know or have read the original classic to read and love this book.
I recommend Stone Field for readers that enjoy retellings, historical fiction, unreliable narrators, and an interesting, diverse cast of characters.
Colorful, diverse cast
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