Frank G(ill) Slaughter Richard Match - Essay

Richard Match

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The million or so people who read "In a Dark Garden" four years ago will be glad to know that Dr. Julian Chisholm (surgeon, Confederate States Army) got home safely after Appomattox. Home, of course, was Chisholm Hundred, a plantation in the Cape Fear valley of North Carolina. In ["The Stubborn Heart," the] sequel to his 1946 best-seller, Frank Slaughter presents his own novelized formula for peace-with-honor in the territory of the newly shattered Confederacy. It may come eighty-five years late, but it will make mighty exciting reading for Dr. Slaughter's readers, with plenty of action on and off the operating table….

In the course of his hero's struggle, Dr. Slaughter also finds time for a spine-chilling chase over quicksands in Twelve-Mile-Hammock, vignettes of carpetbag ridden Wilmington and Radical-dominated Washington, saturnalia in a scalawag heaven and the difficulties a Tidewater aristocrat must face in settling down with a wife who is both a mountain girl and a genuine democrat. Readers of "In a Dark Garden" will be gratified to learn that the Klan's local den is financed by none other than Lucy Sprague, Julian's blond but baleful ex-sister-in-law—the same siren who gave him so much trouble in ante-bellum days, and who now has her well-deserved come-uppance. All of it adds up to high-grade medico-historical fiction—in this reviewer's opinion, the best Slaughter novel to date.

Richard Match, "Dr. Chisholm, C.S.A.," in The New York Times Book Review (copyright © 1950 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), June 4, 1950, p. 26.