The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock

18232337This is what white people always told us. Work and behave and nothing bad would befall us, as though being a slave was not evidence of something bad having already befallen us.

What it’s about: Persey Wilson is a slave on a sugar plantation who escapes from his master during the Civil War and embarks on a journey across the Texas frontier, searching for the woman he loves and eventually joining the Comanche tribe.

Why I liked it: Persey is writing down his story on the eve of his hanging (a fact revealed on the first page) in a tiny Texas town called Drunken Bride. As I read, I found myself slowly but surely getting caught up in his story, which begins on a Louisiana plantation and ends in an Indian village on the Texas plains. This novel has a terrific sense of time and place. The details of Persey’s difficult life are compelling: the back-breaking labor of cutting sugar cane, enduring the terrible Texas winter storms, first being tortured by and then electing to join the Comanche. It’s only then that he finds a sense of place and belonging. This is not a feel-good novel, by any means, but it is a good story, and I’m glad I read it.

Who might like it: Fans of historical fiction set in the Civil War era and Westerns.


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