Thursday, January 26, 2017
What An Unexpected Surprise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love reading what people recommend, so, when my bookseller friend, Toby, urged me to read "Thomas Jefferson Dreams Of Sally Hemings," I took him up on it.
It took me a long time to read it, because I had other stuff I had to get through, then life circumstances stepped in. So, by the time I was ready to pick it up, while I recalled Toby's enthusiasm, I was less than enthusiastic. "What could be special about another historical novel?," I thought. So, it was with somewhat jaded expectations, I picked up Stephen O'Connor's novel, and began reading.
I discovered a novel so far removed from the traditional historic narrative I was blown away. If anything, it was more like "Mason And Dixon," by Thomas Pynchon. The style was more accessible than Pynchon's. But its mixture of meditative passages, time and space, points of view, and outlooks on social issues, made this a novel, not just of its time, but ours. Some of the same issues dealt with in this novel are being faced in our country today. Watch out for that pendulum, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mr. O'Connor is blatantly objective in his depiction of the title characters, showing both their strengths and flaws. With Sally, he makes come alive, a figure who, for centuries, has been shrouded in ambiguity. Though she is drawn fictionally, this may, in many ways, be the most full fledged portrait of Hemings given by history, yet.
I was frankly shocked to see that this gem did not turn up on any Ten Best Lists for last year. I have yet to read Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad," but intend to, shortly. I cannot help if that book, and all the attention it received, deflected from O'Connor's work. I will let you know, when I finish Whitehead's book.
Don't be jaded by genre, like I was, darlings! Had I given in, I would have missed out on a spectacular work.
What a shame that would have been!