Suite Harmonic

Reviews for Suite Harmonic:  A Civil War Novel of Rediscovery

From the Civil War Monitor (Carolyn Chesarino, 9/19/12):  “Emily Meier’s heavily researched Suite Harmonic: A Civil War Novel of Rediscovery imaginatively recounts the Given family history—in particular John Given Jr. and sister Catherine (Kate)—from 1862 through 1898. She narrates in an engaging counter-point style both John’s experiences in battle with the 25th Indiana Infantry and Kate’s observations of the post-utopian experiment of a home front that is New Harmony, Indiana. An historical novel, Meier’s work synthesizes an impressive array of primary and secondary sources…greater themes such as national identity for Irish immigrants, abolitionism, and the dreariness of war.”

Also, check out these reader reviews on Suite Harmonic: A Civil War Novel of Rediscovery

Judith (Oklahoma) USA, Accurate and Richly Woven
This well written book makes history come alive in a personal way. It is a treasure. It especially spoke to me as I begin my own quest into my Irish ancestry. Highly recommend! I cannot wait to delve into other works by this author.

Kathleen Jesme
, Author of The Plum-Stone Game; Motherhouse; Fire Eater
, and MeridianLucid and Realistic
“Inside the Daily Workings of the Civil War” might be an apt subtitle for this novel, which faithfully describes the horror and banality of war, both on the front and at home. Taking an ancestor’s letters as a starting point, Emily Meier has created an imaginative yet realistic picture of a town and its people first cloaked, and then shrouded, in the worst kind of war, that between families, siblings, former compatriots.

Suite Harmonic chronicles the life of John Given and his family and town during and after the Civil War. Ironically, New Harmony, Indiana, was originally established as a utopian community, but is well on its way to becoming an ordinary place touched by an extraordinary war. Meier is adept at creating the characters and details that bring the town and the times to life. The reader experiences the hopes, struggles, and tragedies that befall New Harmony’s families, particularly the Givens family, as the full import of the war falls upon them. The war scenes, long stretches of numbing idleness followed by horrendous bloody battles and mass chaos, are particularly realistic. Wars are about people, and Meier has captured that experience beautifully.

Peter Brown, Author of The Fugitive WifeVivid Storytelling
Meier has a remarkable talent for rendering the particulars of her characters’ lives and inner thoughts–countless small details and understated, poetic flourishes that carry the ring of truth and unmask the desires, fears, disappointments, pride and satisfactions of these people. Every page hints at exhaustive research, inviting the reader to lean into the history confident he will not be let down. With these skills, Meier invests us in the intimate as well as the tectonic movements of war, family, and fate.

Dr. Michael Given –  Clavell, Uris, Michener, Meier
Readers who enjoy the historical novels of such authors as James Clavell, Leon Uris and James Michener will be pleased to find another richly researched and truly entertaining book in Emily Meier’s “Suite Harmonic.” Meier has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that the stories she tells are not only interesting and thought provoking, but that they are also based on accurate (and often forgotten) historical data.

We get the stories of civil war soldiers, not only in exciting and frequently disturbing battle scenes, but in the even more interesting day-to-day mundanity of slogging from one unknowable destination to the next–Fort Donelson to Shiloh to Memphis to Vicksburg to Cairo to Atlanta to Richmond and finally to Appomattox and D.C. We get references to real soldiers on the front lines and to their officers and leaders, whose plans were most often well outside the knowledge of those on the ground who were charged with implementing such strategies.

We get a rich and interesting picture of those left behind, the women and families in the small town of New Harmony, Indiana as they wait for news from the various fronts and try to get on with their own lives. We also get extremely interesting information on the unique experiments in American utopianism–the New Harmony of the Rappites, the Owens, the Boatload of Knowledge and Fanny Wright’s Nashoba colony for freed slaves.

But most importantly, we get the story of one particular family who left Donegal, Ireland to escape the effects of the Great Famine and to build a better life in America. These were real people doing extraordinary things at an extraordinary time in world history. Meier has used letters, journals, institutional documents and personal interviews to underpin her work, but it is her imagination and passion for these people that shines through and makes “Suite Harmonic” more than a dry textbook or a catalogue of historical miscellany.

This novel is exciting, suspenseful, at times sad and poignant–but always honest, vividly told and compelling.

Pam Greer Loved Suite Harmonic!
This is a wonderful story and a very well-written book! Emily Meier uses her vast knowledge of the Civil War and her insight into human nature to make me feel as if I were right on the battlefield and on the homefront with her fascinating characters. Suite Harmonic is historical fiction at its best. I learned so much about this important time period in our country’s history, and I fell in love with the characters as the author enabled me to get inside their minds and feel what they were feeling. This is one of those special books that stays in your heart long after you finish the last page. I didn’t want it to end!

Joe Taylor, St. Louis, MO – An Absorbing Read, Skillfully Executed
This novel is an absorbing read, textured skillfully with sights, sounds, and smells of 1860s Civil War America, pulling the reader in to imagine really being `there’, witness to the contrasting worlds of the battlefield and home front. Union Private John Given, 25th Indiana, an Irish immigrant transplanted to the Ohio River [Wabash] Town of New Harmony fights for his adopted country and finds himself simultaneously engaged in a `battle of the sexes’ for his heart’s desire, the beautiful, enigmatic, and highly spirited Ann Bradley. Emily Meier’s astounding eye for detail in this book, skill as a writer and researcher, makes this Civil War era story, and the human stories within the story, compelling and rewarding.

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