Cover Image: Collodion

Collodion

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Member Reviews

In the midst of the Civil War, an autistic postmortem photographer, Osborne Roche, bumbling through battlefields with his nephew, meets a father/daughter embalming team. The daughter, Lou, is also “peculiar,” dresses in men’s clothes, and spends her days, like Osborne, with the dead. Period photographic techniques and embalming history are adroitly woven into the story. Collodion is used in both early daguerreotypes and embalming, and becomes a metaphor for Osborne and Lou’s relationship. I appreciate that throughout the story there is equal treatment of both Union and Confederate soldiers, with neither being portrayed as the “good guys” or the “bad guys,” but just young men, sometimes boys, being thrust into a situation beyond their control. 

Osborne has an endearing ritual of riffling through the pockets of the dead that he photographs in order to get a sense of who they had been as a person; using what tidbits of knowledge he discovers, he creates fictitious anecdotes as if they knew one another. He tells his nephew that this method is the only way he’d ever have friends. Later, he meets Lou, his first real friend. Lou constantly taps her fingers and Osborne can’t shake hands or touch anyone. He doesn’t understand social cues, politeness or jokes, and neither of them can tolerate loud noise or strong smells. They bond over their exceptional way of facing the world and feel comfortable only around one another.

As much as I enjoyed the sweet eccentricity of Osborn and Lou, I was disappointed with the rushed ending. I got the feeling that the author enjoyed sauntering through the story, slowly developing his characters, and then was told to wrap it up. Maybe he had a deadline? The ending of the story was dramatic, but I felt whooshed through what should have been the most heartfelt part of the story. 

Many thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy.
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I had never heard of this author before, but the description of the book sounded really intriguing and I wanted to give it a try. It was a really good historical fiction taking place during the civil war. It brings up the subject of autism, which is not talked about enough in literature. I really enjoyed this book.
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I think with Collodion the story line is great. I love the time period and subject matter, and it was easy to imagine being in the photographers position; particularly on the Civil War battlefields. However, for my own personal opinion, it was not an easy read. I think the reason behind that was that I get really invested in the characters and just could not connect to them. Greg Morgan has a very likeable imagination and huge potential so I can seehow this book in the right readers hands would be a hit. It just wasn't for me. I thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review it.
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First of all, I have not realised that this book is the second one of the series until I have finished. Yet it it was easy to read as stand alone piece. 
Secondly, I loved the topic and the chosen era... It's not only interesting story. It is the peculiar story. That would probably describe it best.
Well done researched American history and history of photography - something as photographer myself I could relate. Through light humour one of the highlights is the mental health. Avoiding any spoilers it could make, I will leave it up to readers to find out.
It's not your usual story with predictable ending. 

The only little downside that I have spotted is mixed American/British slang, some words questionably fitting into the time/era described. It is not majorly distracting but something that could be improved on.

All in all, great read.
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I chose the book Collodion because I was intrigued by the premise. Lou and Osborn were written well as were the rest of the characters. It's clear that a lot of research went into writing them and about the Civil War time period. I had never realized that several different photographers and embalmer followed the different troops around to different battles. Learning how involved and precise these arts were was fascinating. I'd also never heard of a"weeper", as a lifelong profession, before. 
There's just so much history to glean from this book!
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What a highly unusual story!  A man and a woman meet during the Civil War.  Both display behaviors that would probably put them in the autism spectrum if they had lived today.  The man, Osborn, is a famous war photographer.  Lou is an embalmer, kept busy by the carnage of the American Civil War.  They meet and discover that they have much in common.

The relationship progresses, much to the chagrin of Lou's father.

I was unaware that this was the second book of a series, so don't know if either character appeared in the first book, or if the stories can stand alone, but center on the Civil War as a theme.  

Peoples' reactions to Osborn vary widely.  If they know he is a renowned photographer, they are more tolerant of his behavioral idiosyncrasies.  If not, they call him unkind names.

Since a number of real-life characters populate the story, I would have welcomed information as to whether Osborn and Lou were based upon anyone in particular.  A Thomas Roche was a Civil War photographer and Lou's father did indeed embalm Willy Lincoln.  But I can find no mention of an Osborn or a Lou.  It would be interesting to know.

I recommend the book.  It's unusual and clips along at a good pace.  There is tragedy, misunderstanding, and injustice enough to keep one's interest.
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‘Collodion’ has it all and Greg Morgan develops this storyline much in the same way as Osborn Roche, the Civil War and post mortem photographer tells a story through his pictures. 
Osborn is well respected and autistic. When he meets Lou, (an autistic woman dressed as a man) working as a Union army embalmer, he notices her eyes similar in beauty and shade to his mothers and they become friends. Lou is the daughter of Henry Cantrell, the embalmer of Abraham Lincoln and his young son Willy. Henry is opposed to the growing friendship of his daughter and Osborn, believing his daughter should not fall in love, marry or bear children due to her autism. Lou is taken away by her father and Osborn is alone and shattered without her.
Fate is found to be a friend. Osborn Roche has become a famous photographer and has published a book about the Battle of Corinth. At a book signing, he is reunited with Lou who is attending with her uncle. Osborn learns that Lou’s father is planning to have her sterilized. With no other option, Osborn and Lou run away, marry and are once again be the focus of Henry Cantrell’s threats, thwarts and challenges.
This is a page turning read with an intriguing plot that twists, turns and surprises.
Thank you NetGalley and Greg Morgan for an ARC in exchange for an honest book review.
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