"A tender historical novel" (Oprah Magazine) imagines the life of a woman who escapes from slavery to the North in 1849, from the author of River, Cross My Heart.
Russell's Knob is not paradise. But already in 1849 this New Jersey highlands settlement is home to a diverse population of blacks, whites, and reds who have intermarried and lived in relative harmony for generations. It is a haven for Dossie Bird, who has escaped north along the Underground Railroad and now feels the embrace of the Smoot family.
Duncan Smoot presides as accidental patriarch, protector of his enterprising sister, Hattie, and his two rambunctious nephews. As Dossie busies herself with cleaning, cooking, and tending the chickens at Duncan's homestead, she wonders: Could this man, her rescuer--so godlike in her eyes, so much older than she--expect her to become his helpmeet?. Tentatively, Dossie begins to put down roots--until a shocking act of violence propels her away from Russell's Knob and eventually into the mayhem of New York City's mean streets.
With the same storytelling brio that distinguished the acclaimed novels River, Cross My Heart and Stand the Storm, Breena Clarke weaves a richly dramatic story of interracial harmony in the Civil War era--and of one woman's triumph in the crucible of history.
"An empowering story about community, self-realization, and freedom of choice." --Sarah Johnson, Reading the Past
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clear and evocative imagery.
Stars: Overall 5 Narration 5 Story 5
There are ways to broaden your knowledge and fuel curiosity simply by reading fiction. While it isn’t a substitute for research, little gems of knowledge and inspiration for further research can come in the midst of a fictional story that transports and entertains. Breena Clarke creates the fictional town of Russel’s Knob New Jersey: a gathering place for those running from the slavery and oppression of the pre-civil war south, a community comprised of people who are more tolerant and less inclined to follow societal norms.
Character driven, with events that range from heartwarming to heartwrenching, Clarke’s portrayals of the people we meet, and most especially Dossie, are fully living and breathing. Completely perfect in their imperfections, their traits and predilections, prejudices and hopes are clearly displayed and ad a fullness to the reader’s experience. While you don’t need this book to explain the complexities of human nature: good or bad, Clarke doesn’t hold back in presenting all sides in clear and evocative imagery.
Narration for this story is presented by Love Carter and her delivery and performance were the perfect accompaniment to the story: never over-reaching for emotional impact, nor underplaying the moments of horror to spare the listener. Clear enunciation, smooth and steady delivery and high quality production values all lead to a pleasant experience.
While I was excited about this book, I was completely unprepared for my reactions to it when I finished. This is one of those stories that stays with you, long after the end. While there is love and hope, there is murder, violence and betrayals here: highlighting the fact that people, even 150+ years ago, weren’t all that different from today.
I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.