Monday, December 25, 2006

Abraham's Well

I have mixed feelings about this book.

I liked the story presented by this book. I didn't tire of it and was able to read it quickly.

I appreciated the window into events with which I was barely acquainted. I added to my understanding of the Trail of Tears which the book handled in depth and with believable detail. The descriptions reminded me of a similar forced march portrayed in One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus (a book I have repeatedly recommended and praised).

The language choices used to present the attempts to turn the protagonist into a "breed mother" worked well.

The characterization of Mama Emma's guilt and denial over her role as a slave keeper rang true as did Armentia's struggle with her feelings for and expectations of Mama Emma.

Yet, the book is not without its shortcomings.

I never connected on an emotional level with the protagonist.

The inclusion of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Juneteenth and the Land Rush felt contrived. The last third of the book seemed rushed.

As I read, I occasionally had the feeling that the sentiments or, at least the vocabulary used to express the sentiments, were too contemporary.

The religious message was heavy handed. The multiple chapters dealing with the middle of the night preaching session were overlong.

The book succeeds in some measure on an educational level but, on a story telling level, it hits just shy of the mark.

1 comment:

Susan Kelly said...

I have to think about Armentia more. I guess she seems like a lot of heroines in this sort of story and her flaw is that she needed to find courage, which is not novel.

Mama Emma was an interesting character.

I didn't notice the contemporary langauge. To go back and look for it seems to be "cheating."

I do wonder what happened to the first Abraham. It was realistic not to have that explained, it was also bold because I bet if they did make this into a movie the studio would want everything explained.