Jean Marie McLain
“[As Best We Could] is one of the
best books I have ever read in my life.”
"I really cannot speak enough about
it, I loved it and frequently was moved by it. It was one of those
rare books that you don't want to end...you know, the kind of story
that when you see you are halfway through, your thought is, "darn,
just 250 pages more." My hat is off to Jean Marie, a gifted author."
"I've been enjoying reading your book and could kick myself for not
doing so before this. It's terrific."
"When you told me about your book of
the correspondence between a farm girl and her friend fighting for the
Union in the Civil War, I was wondering how you would handle such a
difficult topic; made even more difficult by the restraints of the
times, the required prudishness of the women, etc. You handled it
splendidly! The actions at home and at the battlefront come very much
alive. You (the reader) see them rolling before your eyes and much of
it becomes unforgettable. I laughed and cried reading it- mostly
cried- because there are so many sad and moving elements in the story.
[Reading it] was a joy, in fact, a magnet that kept me attached to
your writing for hours on end."
"The introduction of your characters is brilliant. It is very
interesting, delightful, clever, happy and sad, and moves along
quickly. It is an excellent job. I continue to praise you for your
innovative writing, using olden day activities, such as the sap
boiling, syrup making, and sugaring off. I was wondering how I was
going to come down to an ending, but you have done that well too!!"
"I am so amazed at your ability to make these characters come alive
on the page- they all have such distinct personalities. Your book is
wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am quite amazed at all the
research it must have required on your part. I learned much about the
Civil War I did not know. The romance between Jamie and Mary was
"I've been reading the book, and last night I got in bed to read
before going to sleep. I must say your book is a page-turner, and I
stayed up much longer that I should have! I realized that it has just
the right mix of romance, fact, and good storytelling! There is a lot
of intrigue and you keep wanting to see what will happen next. What a
"I just this minute finished reading your wonderful book and had to
drop you a line with my praise for it! All of your characters are so
alive and the letters format an excellent way to tell their story.
Your pacing, your attention to detail, your organization, and your
clear writing all contribute to the excellence of the book. Needless
to say, I was on tenderhooks at a couple of points in the book! I will
certainly recommend it to many readers I know!"
"It's the kind of book a man would buy for his lady to help her
understand why this Civil War stuff is interesting. And a good solid
story in its own right. As a reader, one comes to care for the
characters and want things to work out for them."
not met but I feel a bond since reading your wonderful As Best We
Could. I read it in a day and a half. In the last two years I have
become fascinated by the Civil War and have read about ten books so
far. Your book truly brought everything that I have read so far to
LIFE. I started reading your book and became engrossed as though I
were experiencing the same feelings as your Jamie and Mary. You have a
gift and it needs to be shared."
"I just wanted to tell you I am really enjoying your book!"
"Your level of scholarship about the war is amazing- but you make
it very real and readable. And the farm work too. Your characters are
beautifully drawn and very interesting. It made me cry a couple of
[A friend] reported
to me this morning she has read more than 100 pages and LOVES your
book. She says you are a great writer, that she can hear the voices in
her mind. She wishes she didn't have to do other things so she could
just sit and read!"
"What an amazing work from a talented
"Well, I finished reading your book last night. I could not put it
down and stayed up until 1 a.m. this morning to finish it. I loved it.
I was moved to tears on a number of occasions. The descriptions of
some of the battles were awesome. It was frustrating to me that I had
to put your book down from time to time. (Hate it when I have to go to
work.) I always know that when I can't get a book out of my mind for a
while, it is a keeper."
"I've been asked to read other peoples' writings before, and always
before I've had to seek and search to find something constructive to
say, looking for that delicate turn of phrase that can encourage but
still give advice. This is not at all the case with As Best We Could.
I have been enjoying it thoroughly. The characters are charming. The
details are vivid. I laughed at Dusty's antics and cried at the lists
of those missing. I've held my breath to see how one correspondent was
going to react to the other's letter. I've been annoyed with Cicely
and Grandmother, and very angry with Father for selling off the lambs
without even asking. It is so human. It is so real. You have done an
astonishing and wonderful job."
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