10-24-2016  2:52 pm      •     
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'Redemption Falls'

Redemption Falls by Joseph O'Connor is a historical novel of immense proportions, passionate ferocity and unforgettable romance.  Set in America's Western frontier in the aftermath of the Civil War, O'Connor follows an unforgettable cast of characters as they struggle to survive in a ravaged nation. Among them are James O"Keefe, a fallen Irish war hero consumed with anger and disillusionment; Eliza Mooney, a young girl who crosses the continent to find her brother; and Elizabeth Longstreet, a runaway slave who turns her pain into grace in a Western wilderness where nothing is as it seems.  Redemption Falls by Joseph O'Connor (Free Press; October 9, 2007, $25, 464 pages, ISBN:  978-1-4165-5316-8).

'Song Yet Sung' is a Duel of Wills

Song Yet Sung (Riverhead Books, February 5th, $25.95 cloth, ISBN:  978-1-59448-972-3) by  James McBride, he chronicles a duel of wills between a runaway slave and a slave-catcher, each seeking freedom, redemption, and love.  Inspired by historical events, McBride traces the explosive effects of this high-stakes cat-and-mouse game on the complex web of relationships among whites and blacks, in a small Chesapeake Bay town in 1850.
A young Liz Spocott lies seriously wounded in a slave-catcher's tavern after being shot and captured.  As she revives her disturbing dreams of the future convince an ancient wise woman to share the secrets of "the Code," a cryptic and closely guarded method of communication for runaway slaves.  McBride offers a nuanced and historically accurate view of how slavery and particularly "the Code" actually worked. 
As the novel moves relentlessly toward its surprising and deeply moving conclusion, McBride enlarges the novel's focus to include the present, as Liz's visions suggest both disaster and glory for her people in the centuries to come.  Liz knows that freedom will ultimately find its full expression in the lines of an old spiritual whose last lines she cannot remember—the song yet sung.

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