With Lee In Virginia ~ Heirloom Audio #Review
Given contemporary events that have occurred during the last few weeks, I’ve really struggled with how to approach my review of With Lee In Virginia, the latest audio drama by Heirloom Audio Productions. Many might choose to ignore the issue, but that makes me uncomfortable and seems unrealistic in our ultra-connected world.
While we don’t have TV service in our home, and so aren’t saturated with news broadcasts, we are all online – and as my kids are teens – all on Facebook. They’re as aware of the issues as any other typical Pacific Northwest kid, complete with an eye roll for the fallout that has affected some entertainment options – such as favorite TV shows – and so their reaction has nothing to do with my concern.
Rather, it’s public perception. As a result, I decided I needed to just face the issues head-on:
Yes, With Lee In Virginia is based on G. A. Henty’s book.
Yes, it’s about someone who serves in the Confederate army.
Yes, some characters present views that are unacceptable today.
Yes, it presents some Confederate generals and soldiers in a positive light.
HOWEVER… It’s a STORY.
Historical fiction, intended to give insight into what life was really like for the people who lived it.
And it successfully does that, telling a rousing good story while showcasing the conflicts – both outer and inner – that people experienced during the American Civil War.
Brought vibrantly to life, the characters are so charismatic, the tale so compelling, it can be difficult to remember to pause the story to discuss what you’ve heard. (A downloadable study guide is available, and I highly recommend using it if you have any concerns about the sensitive content, or how to engage with your children regarding it.)
There are several other special bonuses in addition to the study guide; my personal favorite is the mp3 soundtrack of the music by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell. (I confess – my fave was the same for In Freedom’s Cause!) There is also an ebook of the G.A. Henty book the production was based on, plus MP3 files of the audio theater production. (Both the ebook and the previously mentioned study guide are in full-color pdf.)
What Did The Kids Think?
We were listening, for the most part, in the car. (Still loving that this car has a CD player… the sheer simplicity and luxury of it!)
It was actually amusing that the very first comment – since they were aware it was made by the same company as In Freedom’s Cause – was “Hey, it’s A LOT easier to understand this one!” I guess the lack of Scottish accents really do make a pretty big difference. :)
It was “both fun and thought-provoking”, in their words, and sparked some interesting discussions about how one might be doing “right” – or what one is taught is right – but have it actually be “wrong” in the long term. (It also sparked a homeschool-typical explanation of the phrase “Hindsight is 20/20”.)
What did I think?
Excellent for older or more discerning students; use care with more impressionable students. If you have concerns, pre-listen and decide how you’re going to approach discussion beforehand. While it states it is “adapted” from Henty’s book, I have not made a comparison to see how closely the text aligns with the audio. Given that some online sources go so far as considering Henty’s book a form of propaganda, I’d say that that either the material has been modernized or those online sources are overstating things a bit.
With Lee In Virginia is presented on 2 CDs in a foldover case with some gorgeous artwork – including a U.S, not Confederate, flag. The audio theater production (complete with orchestra background music) runs about 2 1/2 hours in length.