Welcome to the REVIEW EVENT for Chris Datta’s Historical Fiction Novel Touched with Fire! We have a great giveaway at the bottom of the post and hope you enjoy hearing about this fabulous book. But first, the details:
Ellen Craft is property
In this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father:” the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale—indeed, lily-white—skin.
Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run North. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey—South again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.
Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.
Author: Christopher Datta
Genre: Historical/Women’s/African American Fiction
I don’t read a lot of books outside of my favourite genres, so when I picked this book up, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. What I read and was sucked into very quickly was a well written, well researched, thoroughly compelling book.
As far as I could tell, it was authentic and interesting – I didn’t read anything that jarred me out of the story in a bad way, but did give me a lot of things to think about and look at out of sheer interest.
Ellen was a slave girl begotten of rape. Fair skinned and dark haired, she was the companion of her father’s daughter, and fits in neither the world of the slaves, or of the main house. Isolated and unhappy, she tries to keep herself apart of everyone. And then, her life changes.
Examining everything from skin colour to gender (as she travels as a man for a time), this book is interesting, and as I said compelling.
Given the other books from this time I’ve read were Beloved (Toni Morrison) and Winesburg, Ohio (Sherwood Anderson), I did feel the book compared to them for accuracy and engagement. There was a level of profanity that was unexpected, but I did still feel that was appropriate. All in all, I can’t recommend this book enough – the only complaint I had was that in some places it did feel a bit like we were being educated on the time, over and over, when I’d have been happier just getting right into the story. That may not be a fair criticism though, as I don’t know the genre as well as others.
I rate it four and a half stars.
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About the Author:
Born in Washington, DC Chris Datta, Foreign Service officer, has been on numerous battlefields for his job and country. He has seen mass graves, brought war criminals to justice and in this new chapter, Datta brings readers a stunning historical account of the American Civil War with Touched with Fire. His attention to detail is superb, and his experiences abroad have given him ample stories to tell for years to come.
His action packed life has taken him across the world from the United States to Liberia and Southern Sudan. Not only serving in active war zones but often battling tropical diseases, Datta has nurtured his fascination with civil conflict by diving into the history books and historical records of America’s past. His research is meticulous, and his attention to detail creates vivid pictures of the past.
Follow Chris on his website for updates about new releases and upcoming events: http://touchedwithfire.org