Abel Jones Jr., a civil rights lawyer's son turned black Washington neo-con, has met an unlikely end: collapsing at the Rebel Yell dinner theater, surrounded by actors in Confederate regalia, with his white second wife at his side. Hope Jones Blackshear, Abel's first wife and mother of his only son, is left confounded by the turn his life took in his later years.
Sharing a drink after the funeral with Abel's old friend Nicholas Gordon, Hope lets herself reminisce about first meeting Abel at Harvard, and their early married days as a foreign service couple in Manila and Martinique. But her own version of history is altered by that of Nicholas, a dandified Brit who seems to know more than he lets on. To fully understand the story of Abel Jones, for her own sake and that of their teenage son, Hope journeys from Nashville to Rome, seeking the connection between the Abel she loved, a child of Southern terror in the sixties, and the Abel who became a White House watchdog of global terror, driven to measures Hope could never have imagined.
The work of one of our gutsiest writers, Rebel Yell is a novel of resilient love, political intrigue, and family secrets, steeped in our country's racial history and framing our unique political moment.
What starts off as a drive from Nashville to Birmingham quickly moves across the globe as Randall (The Wind Done Gone) unravels the life of Abel Jones. The day Abel was born, sweet tucked deep in the dark South, Langston Hughes, out west on a speaking tour, typed a little poem in celebration... Abel was colored-baby royalty but things aren t always so sweet. Abel faces run-ins with the KKK and, after a short lifetime as an angry husband and father and a secretive spy, meets his untimely end in the bathroom of a campy dinner theater restaurant. We learn most of his history via his first wife, Hope, following her journey from a young Georgetown matron to the present (thoughts on President Obama and all). As she tries to reconcile Abel s right to tell necessary lies to his wife, and to whomever else he chose, she discovers what it is that bound them together in the first place. Randall leaves much to the imagination, but in the end, she successfully creates a family that s been torn apart and haphazardly put back together by forces sometimes terrifying, sometimes hopeful.