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.