My Wounded Soldier: Book Two: Fight for Love
– SUMMARY –
Tom Tanner has taken on a family. He lived through the war, but becoming a lover and pa to two small children may be the role that breaks him. This is the story of a man’s slow rise from black sheep to patriarch. 1866 is a time of learning to carry on in the aftermath of civil war. Tom is ready to heal, ready to take over Addie’s farm and make it a grand place. He has money from reupping in the war and reward money for bringing a few notorious outlaws. Can Addie’s love help him settle and become an outstanding man like his pa? It’s the only fight worth making– a fight for love.
She told me of her mother then. Greta. She took in washing. And brought men home. And my wife, a slight girl scrubbing on the board. That’s what I felt in her hands. So sweetly shaped, so brined to the work. A lady almost, but not in her marrow. There, the laundry girl, the dirty laundry girl. And the men. Her learning to stand, given a knife by the neighbor woman. “Protect yourself,” the woman said. “No one else will.” And so she did, too young, too scared, too soon.
Like Johnny. He got took to the dark and it stabbed the tender in him and the dark came in.
I sat up and held her to me, stroking her hair while she told me. I felt so many things with her, the fear, yes, the joy, yes. The old wounds, yes. The new wonder of it, yes. The mother, and back more. The girl, yes. The little broken one, yes. No man to ever rise up, and if he did, she met him with just herself and her brave eyes.
“Lass,” I said, but only once. I did not wish to let the pump run dry, for her words gifted me an understanding I had lacked.
I would be the pa to her sometimes. I knew that now. She wouldn’t want it much, but sometimes she would, almost like Johnny, me going back in her, me angry for her, saying what she knew and didn’t get a chance to rail about. Letting her know I was here now. I was here.
It was a part of it for us. There was this little one in there still holding that knife, sometimes at me, yes that’s what I saw. That knife she used and left in a man who tried to take her in an alley. That’s when she met him—her husband. She went in his store after the attack. He was kind. But God…he was weak.
But that’s how he got in. He wiped her face, but he was no hero. She made him feel, and then he couldn’t find it in himself to love her. She was something he hadn’t seen…too alive…too much of everything.
“I am not him,” I told her, and oh I was not. The dark had its hands around my throat time and time, but it did not finish me. I was just a man, but I stood tall. Like it or don’t, I did the hard thing.
“I am Tom Tanner, your man,” I said, “the good of him, the ugly, too. But I am not Richard Varn. I have my own sins, but I do not carry the sins of another. Nor will I,” I said, not sure what I meant by this speech, but I said it with force.
– REVIEW –
“You say hero. No. Not a devil. Not a hero. Not God. Just a man. Addie helped me see it. Just a man. But a man who has to carry some things he’s learned to understand” (p. 11)
And so continues Tom Tanner’s redemptive journey in the concluding novel of Diane Munier’s masterful saga, My Wounded Soldier: Book Two: Fight for Love.
Now married to his beloved Addie, and having taken her two children as his, Tom sets out to build a life worthy of the family blessed upon him. But the mantle of husband and father does not come easily to Tom. Fueled with a passion once thought lost and driven by a need to construct a life unencumbered by a past that still haunts him, Tom discovers that to succeed in his new life often requires a surrender to the struggle. Whether it be a jar of pickles thrown at him by his hot-tempered wife, or the subtle disapproval he engenders when sharing a dipper of water with a man of color, Tom recognizes that there will always be lessons to be learned, there will always be actions to be taken, and, at times, there will exist the need for quiet resignation. For Tom, as one wound begins to heal, another makes its presence known. And as his life with his Addie and their children go forward, Tom comes to the understanding that surrendering his heart to the tender mercies of love will not only ease his wounds, but lead to the worthiness he seeks:
“I would never break the chain I had with her. I knew what I was here to do . . . and I pledged to do it the day Johnny come for me in the field. This was my piece of earth. I intended to inherit it and draw them to me one day . . . and one day . . . and one day . . . for life. For the rest of it . . . I would serve.
And come the day, I’d lay me down for good and go back into this sweet earth, come that day I wanted them to know . . . I loved them.
This was my Promised Land, my lambs upon it . . . my life.” (p.110)
Exquisitely written, again, breathtaking at times, Munier gifts the reader with an abundance of sacred moments: Tom, tenderly washing his baby, Janey, written as the sacrament that it is. Addie and Tom — their lovemaking powerfully revealed through quiet, simple words of love — Munier, using words that are so potent and evocative, we feel the need to give the lovers their privacy. We see Tom, holding his ailing father’s hand, igniting the fear every child has at the thought of losing a parent. And as Munier masterfully crafts vivid imagery and sensory experiences through her writing, not only can we envision the Tanner barn rise up to the sky on red cedar beams, but we are there to inhale the scent of the rich, red wood.
As any reader of Diane Munier has come to learn, her table is replete with an abundance of well-crafted and colorful characters. The voice of Tom Tanner rings true, clear, solid. As does Addie’s, as the reader is gifted with glimpses into her mind and heart. The author’s ancillary characters are so well written that we want to join them at the dinner table and break bread with them.
Once again, Diane Munier, through this extraordinary tale of Tom Tanner’s odyssey, has given us the keys to the kingdom. Give you heart over to Munier’s Wounded Soldier and discover the truths in your soul.
* I received an advance copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review *
– ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Living comfortably in the heart of America with the people I love. I live an extroverted life, but I’m a genuine introvert. An urban kid, I spent much of my youth running in various neighborhood establishments. There I met many colorful characters and I learned to love them and be fascinated by them. My love of story comes from them. I learned to sit on a bar stool or a kitchen chair or in a pew and hear story. Hear the voices telling story. See the mouths move and the hands clutching glasses or cigarettes. See and hear the laughter. There is no greater honor than to hear someone’s story. If you feel that way about the tales I tell…what more could I ask.
Publication Date: August 8, 2015