Monday, November 21, 2016

The Orphan Mother by Robert Hicks

Franklin, Tennessee, 1867.  Home to one of the most ferocious and deadly battles in the Civil War, those who are left are trying to start their lives again, usually in vastly different situations.  The local plantation is now populated by the widow of the man who owned it and she has made her life's work overseeing a vast cemetery of soldier and trying to connect them with families left behind.  Her former life companion and slave, Mariah Reddick, is now a freed woman and discovering what that status means.  Mariah is the town's midwife and brings new life into the world.  Her only son, Theopolis, is the town cobbler and determined to live his life as a free man who is equal to those around him.  A former sharpshooter on the Northern side of the war, George Tole, has washed up in Franklin and is trying to determine if there is a role for him in postwar America.

When Theopolis is murdered giving a political speech, things change for all concerned.  Mariah is determined to discover who is responsible and find a way to hold them accountable.  George, who has met Mariah and thinks she may be his key to a new life, is determined to bring the responsible men to justice and his kind of justice is deadly.  The actions of these people bring about changes in the life of Franklin and all those who live there.

Robert Hicks is renowned as a chronicler of American history, specially stories about the South after the Civil War.  A former novel, The Widow Of The South, is the story of the woman who remained at the plantation in Franklin.  His research is impeccable and his ability to portray the characters he creates brings the era to life for readers.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction and those worried about the status of race in today's America.

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