Book Review: “The Return Of Catesby” By Bob O’Connor

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It isn’t every day that I come across a book that inspires me on several levels.  The Return Of Catesby by Bob O’Connor did just that.  The rest of my review will explain how and why.  If you enjoy historical fiction, I can’t recommend The Return Of Catesby enough.

Over the last few days I’ve spent some time thinking about how The Return Of Catesby inspired me.  First, I have to admit the style in which the book is written is one of my favorites.  I love journals and believe this technique is particularly suited for this type of historical fiction.  As a reader, I am always looking for my next book.  After learning a little about Bob O’Connor’s work, I knew I wanted to read more.  The Return Of Catesby serves well as a sequel to Catesby:  Eyewitness To Civil War, as well as a stand-alone read.  While I don’t feel the need to read Catesby:  Eyewitness To Civil War to fully appreciate The Return Of Catesby, I am now compelled to read the first book due to Catesby’s experiences discussed in the sequel.  All other content aside, the topic, genre, and organization of the book would’ve been enough to draw me in.  But there is so much more.  I simply don’t remember the last time I read a work of historical fiction with such heart.

Why The Return Of Catesby inspires me is an easy question to answer.  There is, of course, the character of Catesby himself, a fictionalized version of a real blacksmith who lived during the Civil War era.  In the book, he comes across as the most authentic, inspiring teacher imaginable, despite having never stepped foot in a classroom prior to his first day of teaching.  His wife, Marcia, truly comes into her own at the end of the book and is Catesby’s constant helpmate in every sense of the word.  Perhaps most inspiring of all is the insatiable appetite for learning exhibited by some of Catesby’s students.  They simply couldn’t get enough, despite the fact that the town of Harpers Ferry wasn’t exactly welcoming.  I envy the community created around the school.  They truly cared for one another and even sought to learn the history of the tension between the community of Harpers Ferry and the school.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

The Return Of Catesby by Bob O’Connor will stay with me for some time.  I am honored to have hosted an interview with him and to have had the opportunity to review the book today.  If you have any interest in historical fiction at all, I highly recommend The Return Of Catesby.  Do not be surprised if I review more of Bob O’Connor’s work in the future.

Antietam National Batllefield

Antietam National Batllefield

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