Summary: Sitting in a jail cell on the eve of his hanging, April 1, 1875, freedman Persimmon “Persy” Wilson wants nothing more than to leave some record of the truth—his truth. He may be guilty, but not of what he stands accused: the kidnapping and rape of his former master’s wife.
In 1860, Persy had been sold to Sweetmore, a Louisiana sugar plantation, alongside a striking, light-skinned house slave named Chloe. Their deep and instant connection fueled a love affair and inspired plans to escape their owner, Master Wilson, who claimed Chloe as his concubine. But on the eve of the Union Army’s attack on New Orleans, Wilson shot Persy, leaving him for dead, and fled with Chloe and his other slaves to Texas. So began Persy’s journey across the frontier, determined to reunite with his lost love. Along the way, he would be captured by the Comanche, his only chance of survival to prove himself fierce and unbreakable enough to become a warrior. His odyssey of warfare, heartbreak, unlikely friendships, and newfound family would change the very core of his identity and teach him the meaning and the price of freedom.
Review: When you read a lot, it's not unusual to come across books with similar themes. While The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson was an interesting read, it didn't grab me like other books along this vein have. I try to be as non-biased as possible with books, but knowing that the author was white gave me a bit of discomfort when it came to usage of the n-word. It was sprinkled liberally from the mouths of the enslaved, even more so than their overseers and, at times, it felt forced and inauthentic. Perhaps it's in knowing that of her two novels, both are rooted in slavery themes. What is her fascination with the topic? She does the research but she never quite captures the true essence of her characters.
Though the plot line of The Life and Times is interesting, I'd suggest readers pick up two other books: Anita Bunkley's One Thousand Steps does a much better job of exploring the relationship between enslaved African-Americans and Native Americans; and Leonard Pitts' Freedom, does an amazing job of telling the story of a man that walks the country looking for his lost love following the end of slavery.
Published: January 2017
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.
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