Known for its musical history, Nashville is a city with, not only a song or two, but a rich story. Home of our nation’s 7th president, Andrew Johnson, as well as the reputed ‘birthplace of country music’, Nashville offers a wide range of opportunities for a journey.
But since we’re celebrating Tamera Alexander’s newest release, A Song Yet Unsung, our feature place for our book journey is Belmont Mansion and…I’m also tempted to take you guys on a little jaunt to the mountains of eastern Tennessee.
The Civil War was particularly hard on the South, and Nashville was no exception. With the battle raging both within and without the city walls, the world Rebekah Carrington steps back into is nothing like the city she left 10 years before. In A Note Yet Unsung, our heroine, Rebekah, garners employment with (and finds an ally in) the formidable Adelicia Acklen – a woman of fantastic wealth and influence. In the novel, she holds sway for both Rebekah and Tate (the hero), and Tamera does a fantastic job of incorporating this real-life heroine as a secondary character into her story.
In all honesty, Adelicia could have been the heroine of her own story. Her early life with riddled with grief. Her fiancé died just before their marriage, her second husband died after seven years of marriage, and all four of their children died before they reached the age of eleven. She would marry again and lose two of her six children before her second husband died after 14 years of marriage. Her second husband, Joseph Acklen, was an excellent businessman and increased Adelicia’s original wealth substantially. Together they built Belmont Mansion – an antebellum, Italian-style home seated on the highest hill of a 177 acre ‘plantation’.
Construction began in 1853 and the house and grounds included an art gallery, aviary, bear house, and even a zoo. The Acklens opened the grounds to the locals so they could experience the opportunity of seeing the variety Belmont had to offer, and in so doing, had Nashville’s first public park. The 36 room mansion houses artwork from all over the world and oozes elegance and style. The Acklens also gave an annual ball at their home. Despite Belmont being a Union headquarters during the Civil War and caught in the middle of the Battle of Franklin, the sprawling and impression mansion survived – beautifully intact.
I can’t imagine what Adelicia’s losses forged within her but from all accounts she was a force to be reckoned with, although she was an exceedingly generous person. Beautiful, smart, and highly influential, she’s been compared to Scarlet O’Hara in being able to work the crowd to get what she wanted. Read more here.
To read more about Adelicia Acklen in fictional form, don’t miss Tamera Alexander’s book, A Note Yet Unsung. You can read my review here. And stop by Saturday for our Swoony Saturday post featuring Tate, the hero in this novel.
And…if you read the book, you’ll get a taste of my Appalachian culture. Just for kicks, here are a few pics from eastern Tennessee where my family lived for 8 years.