I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person
now I was free. There was such a glory over everything.
The sun came up like gold through the trees,
and I felt like I was in heaven.
-Harriet Tubman (one of the first few black women to escape slavery)
Kathleen Grissom - the author of New York Times bestseller and a Book Club favourite The Kitchen House - has nailed it again! She has continued the story of James Pyke in a sequel Glory Over Everything and has enraptured readers yet one more time. A breathtaking thriller, a tragic love story and an inspiring testament to our essential need for freedom all rolled into one beautiful novel.
Although this novel can be read on its own as the author does remind the reader about the important facts, it will be enriching if one had read the earlier book. Told mainly from James 'Jamie' Pyke perspective, I felt that the novel started off rather slow and uninteresting but the pace did pick up from the middle and did not waver till the end.
To summarize, James Pyke, who is the ill-begotten child of Marshall Pykes (master of the Tall Oaks Plantation) and the slave Belle, runs away to Philadelphia. There he finds work as an apprentice for a silversmith Mr Burton. Impressed by James's eye for detail and his hard work, Mr and Mrs Burton who have just lost their son, decide to adopt James and make him their heir. Because James looks white, he is able to hide his terrible secret (that he is half black which might jeopardize everything he had worked so hard for). James befriends a married socialite Caroline and falls desperately in love with her. She bears him a child and dies tragically at childbirth..
What made me finish the book in no time was when Pan, the 10 year old beloved black boy who had been entrusted with James, gets abducted and sold into slavery. James goes on a dangerous quest to find him through the Underground Railroad. [The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by the 19th Century slaves in efforts to escape to freedom in the Northern States or to Canada.] Just when they thought they had reached safety, just when they thought they had tasted freedom, the brutal slave tracker Rankin closes in. Will Rankin finally get his hand on James and expose his secret identity? Or will James's fight for survival and compassion triumph? Read to find out....
The amount of importance given to details of the journey to find Pan and the incredibly treacherous route taken through the Great Dismal Swamp to escape with Pan and Sukey, the heavily pregnant compassionate nurse, was noteworthy. The story just jumps off the pages! Breathless to the end...
Published in 2016 and consists of 365 pages for the hardcover version. Paperback available at Amazon for US$10.
'I love reading your book reviews. After seeing it on your blog, I went ahead and bought Me Before You..It was a lovely story. Just yesterday, I bought the sequel After You....'
- Shereen M.
Thank you dear friend for reading my book reviews. After what you said, I realised my last book review was more than a month ago! It made me sit up. As I was reading Glory Over Everything, sequel to The Kitchen House, I had completely forgotten about my last book I had finished reading - Olive Kitteridge. This ought to explain a whole lot about this novel, doesn't it? The fact that it had slipped my mind.
My interest in this book was piqued when I read a book review of Olive Kitteridge in Singapore's The Sunday Times a few months back. Someone (I can't remember her name but I believe she was someone newsworthy) had been reading this book and had particularly liked the story. Presuming I would to, I ordered this book online.
Olive Kitteridge the novel by Elizabeth Strout is a 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning collection of 13 stories about a group of ordinary people who lived in Crosby, Maine. It depicts their joys, sorrows, tragedies and grief all centered around a retired school teacher Olive Kitteridge. She deplores the changes around her - a lounge musician haunted by a past romance, a former student who has lost the will to live, Olive's own child who feels his mother is insensitive to his needs and her husband Henry who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.
I am sorry to say so bluntly - I didn't quite enjoy this book. I took a long time to finish it (yes I finished it!) and yet it had only 270 pages. No doubt, it was my close companion during my tea in cafes or while waiting for buses or for my girls.. but I found it rather dry, long winded and quite depressing. There were 3 suicides, 3 other deaths, a lot of broken relationships, sad aging folks and a whole lot of loneliness.
I guess no one is immune to loneliness of their soul - no matter how busy they may seem. Probably, that is why this book is so sad - it reminds all of us too much about it. We all are starving on the inside.
Olive finished the doughnut, wiped the sugar from her fingers,
sat back, and said,"You're starving."
The girl didn't move, only said,"Uh-duh."
"I'm starving, too,"Olive said. The girl looked over at her.
"I am," Olive said. "Why do you think I eat every doughnut in sight?"
"You're not starving ," Nina said with disgust.
"Sure I am. We all are."
A Reader's Guide and questions for Book Club discussions are also available at the end of the book. Olive Kitteridge has also been made into a 4 hour TV mini series starring Oscar winner Frances McDormand in 2015.
Available online at amazon for Us$10 paperback version.