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The Confederate General Rides North

The Confederate General Rides North

A Novel

  • reading group guide
In this richly imagined, utterly original debut a mother- daughter road trip leads a young girl—a precocious Civil War buff—to a hard-won understanding of the American history she loves and the personal history she inherits. 

Eleven-year-old  Katherine  McConnell  is  so  immersed in Civil War history that she often imagines herself a general, leading troops to battle. When Kat’s beautiful, impulsive mother wakes her early one morning in the summer of 1968 to tell her they will be taking a road trip from Georgia  to  Maine  to  find  antiques  for  a  shop  she  wants  to open,  Kat  sees  the  opportunity  for  adventure  and  a  respite from her parents’ troubled marriage. Armed with a road atlas and her most treasured history books, Kat cleverly charts a course that will take them to battlefields and historic sites and, for her mother’s sake she hopes, bring them home a success. But as the trip progresses, Kat’s experiences test her faith in her mother and her loyalty to the South, bringing her to a dif- ficult new awareness of her family and the history she reveres. And when their journey comes to an abrupt and devastating halt  in  Gettysburg,  Kat  must  make  an  irrevocable  choice about their ultimate destination.

Deftly narrated with the beguiling honesty of a child’s per- spective and set against the rich backdrop of the South during the 1960s, The Confederate General Rides North gracefully blends a complex mother-daughter relationship, the legacy of the Civil War, and the ache of growing up too soon.
Choose a format:
  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416598404 | 
  • February 2013
List Price $18.99
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

1. The Confederate General Rides North is a coming-of-age novel, about Katherine coping with difficult events and being forced to grow up quickly. Though the trip she and her mother take lasts just under a week, Kat changes her attitudes about a number of things; what are they?

2. The story of Katherine and her mother’s journey is told exclusively from Kat’s point of view. In what ways would the novel be different if the story had been told by Kat’s mother in first person narration? How would the novel be different if third person narration had been used and the thoughts of both Kat and her mother were revealed? What might have been lost in a different sort of narration?

3. Discuss how Katherine uses her love of Civil War history to cope with her personal difficulties. How does the author convey this in the italicized sections? How does the “voice” of the italicized (3rd person) sections differ from that of the primary 1st person narrative of the book? Does the voice of the “italicized” sections change over the course of the book?

4. The journey in the novel takes place early in the summer of 1968. In what ways and from whom does Kat learn about some of the important political events of 1968? How does she make sense of this information and what effect does it have on her as she travels with her mother? What memories or knowledge do you have about the political and cultural events see more

About the Author

Amanda C. Gable
Photograph by Caroline Joe

Amanda C. Gable

Amanda C. Gable’s short stories have appeared in The North American Review, The Crescent Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Kalliope, Sinister Wisdom, Other Voices, and other publications.  She has been awarded residency fellowships by Yaddo, the Hambidge Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  A native of Marietta, she currently lives in Decatur, Georgia.

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