In a Time Never Known

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
494 Pages
Reviewed on 03/09/2018
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Author Biography

Kat Michels lives in Los Angeles, CA, with her two puggles. She is the author of a historical fiction novel, three children’s books and a series of mini-biographies about extraordinary American women. Kat has received multiple awards for her writing, including two regional Emmys for her work on short-form documentaries.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Kat Michels takes readers back to the US Civil War era in this engrossing historical fiction where genteel Southern belles wore massive hooped gowns and fluttered coquettish eyelids as they played the piano to a room of eligible, admiring males. The beautiful young Kady is one of these belles, the apple of her father’s eye. But it is actually her mother, Anna, whose love and admiration Kady craves. It takes a heartbreaking series of events before mother and daughter can truly find, understand and appreciate each other, something they achieve by working together as spies…and against their own Confederate husbands! In Anna’s case, the circumstances of her marriage readily explain her betrayal. In Kady’s case? Well, you will need to read the book to understand how and why she too worked against a husband she grew to love.

While these two women are at the forefront of the characters in this book, a number of the males captivate readers’ minds too. Some, like Kady’s father (Anna’s husband) are loathesome and cruel. Others, like Kady’s husband, kill for survival or when under orders and hate themselves for it. As is shown repeatedly in the book, war can make good folks do bad things. Through the thoughts, actions and dialogue of the characters, the author explores the racial tensions and often inhumane treatment black slaves endured. Readers unfamiliar with that era will find themselves repulsed and saddened by what they read.

It’s a joy, even a privilege, to find a book that is not only a wonderful read, but wonderfully written in all respects, including its grammar and style. In a Time Never Known is just such a book. This is not a short book but its characters, plot and numerous subplots keep readers turning the pages, unaware that by the time the story ends, they have read nearly 500 pages. That’s how absorbing a read this book is. Given that historical fiction has never been my first choice in books, I’m amazed at how much I enjoyed it. I sincerely hope Kat Michels has another novel in the works, but in the meantime, this one is 5 stars all the way.

Trudi LoPreto

Anna, who is married to a Confederate general in a loveless relationship, and her daughter, Kady, who for many years was a spoiled Daddy’s girl southern belle, are the main characters of In a Time Never Known by Kat Michels. Anna becomes a spy for the North, bringing them all of the secrets that she can discover about the South. She and her slave/best friend Mary work together finding ways to pass on the information. When Kady, now a grown young woman, accidentally discovers her mother’s secret, she too wants to be a spy. Kady is a fast learner and becomes extremely valuable to the Union as well; also changing her relationship with her mother. After many years, finally they are becoming close and sharing a very special mother/daughter love.

Calling all Civil War enthusiasts, spy and espionage buffs and romance fans to start reading In a Time Never Known. There are multiple plots, all offering up excitement, and major and minor characters that seem real. I am a fan of all of the genres found here and this book is wonderful. The violence, rape, sex and murder were done tastefully with just enough details. While there were a few slow spots (not many) and almost 500 pages to read, I never wanted to put down my kindle. While the story is long, it is never boring. There are too many good plot points concerning soldiers, slaves, husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, espionage, and spying all going on at the same time to share them in a review; you must read and enjoy this book yourself. Kat Michels did her homework well and brought the Civil War to life once again. I urge you to begin reading In a Time Never Known today; you will not be disappointed.

Joel R. Dennstedt

In A Time Never Known by Kat Michels actually takes place in a most familiar era of American history: the Civil War. Perhaps less well known, however, is the view of that critical time as experienced and endured by the women of the period. Ms. Michels rectifies this situation with her marvelously engaging war-time drama - told mostly from a feminine perspective - about female spies, mothers and daughters, slaves and owners, and friends and enemies. Fortunately, for the full pleasure and interest of the reader, the men in this book are neither marginalized nor stereotyped. Rather, the focus is centered mostly on the unheralded contributions of women to our nation’s cause, and more, on the particular strengths shown by these various women in times of crisis. Their relationships with men are both nuanced, varied, and integral to the story.

Lest it sound like In A Time Never Known by Kat Michels is an academic study about women in war, it should be noted that the greatest strength of Ms. Michels’ book lies in its superb plotting, in a cast of distinctly different and thoroughly believable characters, and finally in a story extremely well told. Ms. Michels’ writing never lags, is highly polished, and at heart is vastly entertaining. Anna – a southern mother who reluctantly conscripts her naïve and manipulative daughter into spying for the Union – is the remarkable centerpiece of this novel. Although she eventually gives way to the grander exploits of her daughter, she remains central to the embedded viewpoint of this excellent book. Women have an equal role in history, and the strength to move it forward for the better. All told in a story sure to entertain the adventure-minded reader.