This is the story of an American love affair.Intimate and painfully real, this epic tale from the pages of history is based on the lives of vivacious and iron-willed Diana Bullitt, a Southern woman from an illustrious colonial family, and General Philip Kearny, one of the Union's legendary military leaders, a dissolute and passionate man descended from two centuries of New York aristocracy.
In antebellum America, a time when appearances are paramount, Kearny introduces his beautiful young bride to a mesmerizing world of opulence and power. But Diana's tranquil existence soon ends when Kearny joins his cavalry company in Mexico and returns home from the war mutilated and suffering from trauma.
Though Diana struggles to free Philip of his demons, she discovers that she must either follow her conscience and begin a new life for herself or submit to societal pressure and ignore Philip's devastating addictions and his indiscreet liaisons with other women. Rebelling against her husband, Diana embarks on a perilous journey, experiences the full power of her own abilities, and changes profoundly, shedding her provincial ideas of wifely duty and propriety.
Even as Philip's and Diana's twin destinies spiral inexorably toward disaster with the impending Civil War, the couple is entrapped by the persistence of their desire, their pride, and their abiding love for each other.
Micaela Gilchrist uses privately held correspondence, unpublished diaries, and family legends to create an unforgettable love story inspired by historical figures and actual events.
As celebrated military adventurer Philip Kearny says at the beginning of Gilchrist's second novel set in the decades preceding the American Civil War, "It is a fact of natural history that a beautiful woman can destroy a man's life with very little effort." This tale of the real-life marriage of the wealthy Yankee and headstrong Southern belle Diana Bullitt blends narrative, period detail and vivid renderings of the ideological differences that suffused antebellum America. Gilchrist (The Good Journey) had exclusive access to family diaries and letters, and her well-developed characters mix fact and fiction. Diana is a courageous and compassionate Kentucky-born beauty (she shoots a stampeding buffalo one day and rescues an orphaned Pawnee Indian baby the next); Philip is a callous and self-involved soldier who's seen battle from Oregon to North Africa. His impulsive proposal to Diana sets the tone for a rocky marriage; early on the couple is tested by heartache (the death of their infant daughter Susan) and Philip's sexual indiscretions. But when the intrepid soldier loses an arm during combat in Mexico, his emotional instability and continued infidelity spell doom for the union. (Philip and Diana divorced in the late 1850s, a scandalous act in Victorian times). Lively descriptions of the clothes, manners and mindset of the day elevate this dramatic tale of the destructive powers of love.