Washed in the Blood
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Some people may be upset by the ending, but it's certainly credible.
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This is a great novel for anyone I recently read Alther's Kinfolks for book club, and realized that her next book was a novel that grew out of her research into Melungeons and the different theories about them. Mar 12, Sharon G rated it really liked it. I liked following this family through time. However, there were some issues that kept this from being a five star. For example, the dialogue in the beginning of the book was much too modern to be spoken in the 's.
A very human exploration of the complications that racism causes for all of us. A worthy read. Sep 09, William Howle rated it really liked it. When I started this book I wondered where it would take me as it moved from the 's to the 's. In the US it touched on many miserable items in our history. Slavery, Trail of Tears, Virginia eugenics, mixed marriage laws to name a few. I know where the fictional Holston is and the Pegasus club and the Dominion clubs exist under other names.
The ending is sad as is most of this book. Mar 29, Sheather Nelson rated it liked it.
Are you washed in the blood? - John H
I enjoyed this book, which is a testament to the quality of the writing and character development, because it had a couple of flaws that would normally have made it relatively unpalatable to me. The first is that, in her effort to write a sweeping book covering centuries in the life of one Melungeon family, Alther makes them victim to almost every possible calumny that Melungeons faced. And I firmly believe they did, in fact, face many of those recounted here. This aspect appeared very well rese I enjoyed this book, which is a testament to the quality of the writing and character development, because it had a couple of flaws that would normally have made it relatively unpalatable to me.
This aspect appeared very well researched, by the way, and I did learn some things I didn't know about Melungeon history, including the many "legal" ways they were robbed of their land and the risk they ran of being lynched for "racial mixing" when their actual race waas unclear. However, it feels as if, to make her point, Alther wishes to crucify this family and in some way ruin the life of every character you have been called upon to care about. That said, these folks are resilient enough that this is not as miserable an experience as it might be, which I suppose is part of the point.
The internal "voice" of the many featured characters is very convincing and the relationship development quite compelling, particularly the relationship between the conquistador and his pig-boy. In that particular segment, Alther does a nice job of driving home the ways in which EVERYONE, including the "white" people, are victimized by the ambiguous nature of race and relationships between the races. My second major gripe: The ending. It's supposed to be shocking but seems sort of the least of the crimes that take place in the book; it also feels rushed for some reason.
You worked your way through a long portion of the book caring about a set of characters and get this tacked-on unhappy ending for them and their progeny.
Somehow, this book escaped this fate for me, although it was kind of a close thing. Aug 31, Jo Butler rated it it was amazing. Lisa Alther has brought this mysterious Appalachian race out of the shadows with her excellent novel. This multigenerational story depicts the coming-together of the Melungeons, or Porterghee Indians.
She introduces us to Portuguese and Spanish conquistadors in search of treasure, Cherokees defending their land, escaped African slaves, and Englishmen searching for new homes. Their descendants live in the Shenandoah Valley, calling the disputed area the Squabble State. It is not always hospitable, and such places as Hunger Mountain mark where settlers lost their battle with the elements. Racial tension also makes life difficult. Will Martin is a young doctor who received his education in return for practicing in his state after World War I. His skin is not fair enough to let him pass for white, even though he has had the extra fingers removed which mark him as one of the mixed-blood folk.
His fair-skinned wife, Galicia, is also his cousin. Will now questions his own identity. It is a roll of the genetic dice for them. If that child is born dark, they could be forced from their home or worse. Highly recommended. Oct 28, Eden rated it liked it.
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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. At times this book was enjoyable enough to read.
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The first part of the book wasn't all that necessary and it was very difficult to get through. Parts 2 and 3 I was able to read through quickly. Part one was so dense that I felt like giving up. I had to read this for school, but that's besides the point. One problem I had was with the book summary on the jacket cover.
It gave spoilers for parts two and three and it just seem like wasted time. Part two bothered me because in the end the At times this book was enjoyable enough to read. Part two bothered me because in the end they did not have Daniel face the consequences of his actions. He reveled that he was screwing two women at once, and didn't seem to care if the other one got harmed. He should have ended it right away with Abigail once he realized he was in love with the other. But instead, Daniel goes to Abigail's to break off the engagement with her, but instead the writer decided to make Abigail have an affair with an older man and have her be shamed and have Daniel seen as the victim.
Years ago, my friend Nick shared with me his frustration about the Christian preoccupation with blood. His four-year-old daughter was attending preschool at a local church. When Nick tried to get his daughter to explain what it meant to be washed in the blood, she had no idea.