About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Picture of Nineteenth Century Life

Original Sins: A Novel of Slavery and Freedom
Peg Kingman
W. W. Norton & Company (2010)
Hardcover, 432 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Original Sins is a novel of slavery and freedom, friendship and trust. Anibaddh is a runaway slave who has built a fortune in the East Indies as a silk merchant... but she feels that something is missing from her life. The maternal bond is enough to compel Anibaddh to risk her freedom, and that of her two sons by returning to Virginia to discover the fate of the child she left behind eighteen years previously.

A picture of nineteenth century life in America is beautifully evoked, giving the reader a sense of the prejudice and injustice and the basic unfairness and discrimination women of that time faced. For example, when a woman got married, all that was hers became the property of her husband, unless these possessions and monies were set aside in her name before marriage (the equivalent of today's pre-nuptual agreement.) Anibaddh's friend, Grace discovers this when she tries to emancipate an old slave that her uncle "purchased" with money set aside by Grace's mother in trust for Grace while she was a child.

The novel is steadily paced and consistently kept my interest from beginning to end. Much information about the Daguerroype process has been incorportated into the story, adding to the interest of the tale in a believable way. A few characters in the book are based on real-life individuals and the actions of these characters is fairly consistent with what is known about them. The story makes progress from beginning to end in a stately way, not too fast, but perhaps a little on the slow side, yet because the tale is so compelling, I didn't mind. The slower pace is sometimes better than a page-turning, breathless frenzy, because it gives the reader a chance to relax and enjoy the show.

Recommended for readers of historical fiction, and for those who are looking for a change of pace.  I rate this novel a high 4 stars, but it's just a little short of me being able to give it the full five-star rating.

This advance reading copy was sent to me free by the publisher in exchange for this review. This review has simultaneously been posted on Dragon Views, and LibraryThing.

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