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The Soldier's Ride: Inspiration from Desperation

By Edie Hand with Jeffery Addison
Parkway Publishers, Inc., 2009
$11.95, Hardcover

Reviewed by Julia Oliver

Labeled "A Novella" and subtitled Inspiration from Desperation, this attractively packaged book has the look and heft of the Young Adult genre. However, as noted on the marketing insert in the review copy, it’s one of a series geared to "Women 35 plus" from a collaborative duo of Alabama authors.

Edie Hand, who lives in Jasper and is a cousin of the late Elvis Presley, has appeared in television commercials and daytime soaps. She’s also been involved in the production of a good number of books, including cookbooks. Jeffery Addison is a pen name of award-winning broadcast journalist and novelist Don Keith of Indian Springs Village.

The narrative is composed of two sagas in different but overlapping time frames. It appears that the authors took turns writing the chapter-segments. The styles are slightly dissimilar, but not jarringly so, and the shift to a more sophisticated level of writing from time to time is refreshing.

The opening scenario introduces Diana, an impatient, self-centered business executive who does not seem at all concerned over the fact that her estranged husband is in military service in Iraq. Diana has car trouble and decides to sit on a bench in a nearby cemetery while she waits for a mechanic to come to her rescue. In this tranquil setting, two elderly people who claim to be angels take turns telling the visitor an amazing story about one of the old graveyard’s inhabitants. Everything dovetails at the end, when a present-day soldier comes on the scene to show Diana that these encounters have not been merely coincidental.

The depiction of the self-centered career woman is off-puttingly stereotyped, but the sections about the patriotic young hero Chris, who leaves his idyllic hometown and the love of his life to fight for his country in World War II, are nostalgic in a good way.

The blurbs on the jacket include a lovely one from Joey Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial writer for The Birmingham News: "Edie and Jeffery show us in this series that our journey is made up of many short, yet memorable rides. These novellas offer us simple, powerful lessons to fuel us on those future rides." The selection of cover art was inspired, but the synopsis text on the dust jacket gives too much of the plot away.

Like its distributor John F. Blair, Publisher, Parkway Publishers, Inc., offers an impressive list of books, The Soldier’s Ride among them. Sept 2009

Julia Oliver is a Montgomery writer.

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