The Face of Heaven is a book that is grand in scope and appeals to the intellect. I found the history of the American Civil War presented within the pages to be detailed and well-researched (as is also shown by the acknowledgements page). Numerous instances in the story give rise to little tidbits about the era or varying perspectives on why things happened the way they did or clashing beliefs that caused so much turmoil. So as far as the setting and the context goes, this book is thorough.
I wish I could say the same for the characterization. This could very well just be a personal thing, but I had a difficult time truly caring about the characters. At times the omniscient narrator seemed to be holding me back, helping me to remain an observer rather than a "participant" in the events. There were some really sentimental things that happened in the book, but for some reason I just never completely got into the minds of the characters, and it made it more of a struggle to push through the pages. Plus, I wish the interactions between the hero and the heroine could be more authentic. It's not that I want people to fight more, but I just don't think that relationships are generally so "perfect" - especially during a time when emotions and tension would have been running terribly high.
So while the story is interesting, the characters' struggles real, and the history intriguing, there was just a missing ingredient for me. I also think that the last two chapters of the book were too much; I think a lot of the content could have been summed up in the epilogue to keep the story from dragging. (I know that they brought a sense of completeness in showing what happened during the rest of the war, but it didn't feel necessary to me in terms of the characters. In fact, I ended up being especially frustrated with the hero and the heroine because of their attitudes and choices in those two chapters.)
As far as being a "snapshot in history," as this series claims, The Face of Heaven portrays debates and details well. But as far as being a love story, I was left disappointed.
*With thanks to Harvest House through CFBA for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*