Book Jacket

 

rank 326
word count 12966
date submitted 29.06.2012
date updated 29.06.2012
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historic...
classification: universal
incomplete

SLAVE: Escaping the Chains of Freedom

jacquelinemalcolm@yahoo.co.uk

A novel about Hezekiah Thomas, a freed slave who through a series of events goes against his beliefs to become an owner of slaves.

 

Having gained his longed for freedom, Hezekiah Thomas is faced with making it on his own for the first time in his life, though his wife and child remain the property of his vengeful half-brother, James Thomas IV. But graced with a sharp mind and high intelligence, he soon begins his own business in shoemaking and in time a fateful meeting with black slave trader, Albert Shelton, leads to Hezekiah being contracted by The Crown to supply the boots for the invading English armies. However, in order for him to afford to meet the quantities, he enters into an alliance with Shelton which forces Hezekiah to go against all of his principals to become an owner of slaves, convincing himself that it will give them all the perfect life - one of wealth and freedom. To secure the deal, Shelton requests Ruth, Hezekiah’s only daughter, as security against the loan, through marriage to his son, Adam. But Ruth has plans of her own and begins a love affair with Ezekiel, head slave belonging to Hezekiah, and soon becomes pregnant with his child. When Hezekiah discovers the deception he must find a way to appease Shelton before everything is lost.

 
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1776, african american, american revolution, george washington, historical, history, independence day, king george iii, slave, slave trade, slavery, w...

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Slave: Chapter 1

 

 

 

 

 

SLAVE

Escaping the Chains of Freedom

 

The Novel

 

Written & Created by

Jacqueline Malcolm

 

 

Dedicated to My Family

 

 

 

 

 

SLAVE: The Trilogy

Book 1

 

 

 

 

 

© April 2011, Jacqueline Malcolm (Story created in Play form)

© December 2011, Jacqueline Malcolm (Novel)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEZEKIAH THOMAS

 

1738 – 1804


 
PROLOGUE

Winter - 1755

 

 

I have a Beast.

He resides inside me; living, breathing - waiting.

He was present at my birth. A birth that by all accounts wasnt easy. Natures sign of what was to come; my life, as my birth, has never been easy.

This isnt easy!

I can hear crying; no, more than that! I hear screaming, wailing. A boy, no, a man wailing; he cries out, it sounds strange, a mans voice crying out for his mother.

Mother, dont leave me, dont go.

More tears, more cries. Its never ending.

A hard pain grips at my chest, cutting off my breath. I cant breath. Im not breathing.  My screams have stopped. No ones making a sound, now just a heaviness in the room crushing me. My legs give way, I fall to the ground, my hands grabbing out; save me, save myself. I clutch the lifeless body of my mother, already turning cold. Cold already? Its too quick. Its all happening too fast.

I cant breath.

I look around the dark room for air, I see him then, hidden in the shadows. And I remember. She had called his name last. Not mine. His!

Jamie, she said.

That was her name for him. He hated it. Stomped his foot, demanded she call him James or better still, Mr. Thomas. But she loved him, told him it was her breast he had weaned from; so thats what she called my brother; she called him Jamie.

And with her last breath she had said, Jamie, I forgive you.

Im on my hands and knees, the pain growing, my breath disappearing. I look at James, visible as the lone candle catches the whiteness of his skin.

I see you, James!

I find my voice, hoarse from the screams;

What did you do?

He doesnt answer. His head just bows lower. He makes a sound, a shudder, a gasp. But he doesnt answer.

Why doesnt he answer me?

From nowhere, hands hold me from behind. Strong hands, white hands lifting me to my feet. Has death come for me too? I turn, ready to fight. I look into the green eyes of my father. Green eyes filled with water. Tears. Hes crying.  My father, the General, the man who never cries, cries now for my dead mother.

His mistress.

His slave.

Shes gone, Zeke. 

His voice is gentle. He called me Zeke. She calls me Zeke, not him. My father only ever calls me Hezekiah, sometimes boy; often Nigger. Never son! Mama called me Zeke, but now shes gone. But fathers here, calling me Zeke.

I ask him, What did he do?

The doctor did everything he could…”

Not the doctor; him! Him! My finger points at James, my fathers son. Him!

Youre in shock, youre not thinking straight.

She said his name. She called him Jamie. Told him she forgave him. It was the last thing she said, that she forgave him.

And for the first time I release the Beast.

I feel him growing inside me, coming to the surface, taking control. Im disappearing in his fury.

The Beast is here.

My hands clench, theyre now fists. Im flying across the room. I knock the bed of my dead mother as I rush past, it doesnt wake her. The Beast smashes the face of my brother; growling, snarling, he smashes again. It takes more than the General to control the Beast. I hear his voice calling the servants for help but theyll come too late; the Beast must have his day, his time is now. Hes been too quiet for too long.

The Beast roars his freedom. He smashes and roars; bites, tears, claws and roars.

My brothers blood covers me. His nose broken, blood gushing. He cries out, but not for help. The pains too much for him yet he does nothing to defend himself, nothing to stop the Beast. I steady the Beast so I may look my brother in the eye for myself.

And thats when I see it!

An awareness; his own acknowledgement that he deserves this. He deserves the Beast.

What did you do, Jamie? What did you do?

We both cry then. We cry for our lost childhood, our lost friendship, our lost love. We cry for the dead woman on the bed, the corpse we had both called, Mama.

We hold each other and we cry.

What did you do?

Why doesnt he answer me?

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART 1


 

 

 

 

 

 

God save Great George our King,

Long live our Noble King,

God save the King!

Send him victorious,

Happy and Glorious,

Long to reign oer us.

God save the King!

 

 

 

 

 

His Majesty King George III

Crowned King of Great Britain and Ireland

Westminster Abbey

September 22nd 1761

 


 
CHAPTER 1

December - 1761

 

I awake a slave!

As I have every day of the twenty two years of my life and I remember; I must tell father my news.  My eyes open in that most quiet moment; when its neither day nor night, today nor tomorrow. Its simply now, where it seems even demons find peace.  In the stillness I listen and for the briefest of moments the streets of New York are silenced but soon they will be awake and filled with the sounds of life; of horse drawn carriages; the voices of a million unnecessary conversations; and the hurried footsteps of servants running back and forth completing their last minute errands.  A deep sigh escapes me. Every year it grows harder to hear the pure voice of nature. Harder to hear the birds, the goats, the river. The greatest sound now is just noise itself.

I turn my head and the woman lying next to me is beautiful. She sleeps, her mouth slightly open, her breath coming and going, the perfect rhythm of life. I stroke the smoothness of her black skin, careful not to disturb her rest. I could make love to her right now but theres too much to do and soon well both be running around until our legs ache and our backs hurt. I should wake her, but I decide no, I shall let her sleep for a moment longer. That will be my gift to my Betsy today; sleep.

I ease gently out of the bed, making certain I have not roused my queen, my sleeping breath of life and in moments Im dressed and quietly slipping through the door to the dark and empty hallway. The old house is cold and I shiver at its command.  Though we try, its hard to bring warmth to four towering stories of brick, especially in the midst of a cold New York winter.

As I walk, a long list of duties flood my mind; I try to compartmentalize each item by priority; collect more fire wood, empty the burnt ash from the large brick oven, reinforce the dining room chairs, polish the silver trays for the goose. Its Christmas and the General has guests. Theyll be with us early, by noon. Theres much to be done before then.

But above all, at the first possible moment, I must speak privately with father, tell him my news. Our news!

I enter the kitchen and with no time to waste, set about cleaning out the oven. Within minutes the task leaves me covered in the grey black soot meaning Ill need to change again before the guests arrive. I fight frustration that another duty has so easily been added to my already overcrowded list;

I mustnt forget the firewood.

I must tell father

Good morning.

I spin toward her voice and without prompting my lips smile;

I say, I wanted you to sleep.

Theres too much to do.

You should take it easy.

Its Christmas, Zeke. Theyll want breakfast early.

We fall into our natural flow, working side by side. My eyes follow my wife as she pours water in the heavy pot for boiling, humming low under her breath as she sets about her chores with no complaint. She was born a slave, as was I; a product of the City of New York, as was I. In all her years shes known nothing but hard work and long hours, but still, as her husband, her provider and protector, I long to deliver her from this life of slavery.

Our first meeting flashes before me and I cant resist the swell of love. It was the same year my mother had passed away in 1755. I was out running errands; I remember it was a particularly hot summer so I had built up a sweat and regardless of social manners, had removed my shirt. What I carried is a blur, but I recall it was heavy, the weight weighing hard on my muscles. I was tired, walking with my head down, hurrying for some obscure reason, maybe for no other reason than this is what we slaves do, we hurry. So in my hurried haste I had walked straight into her, not only dropping my burdensome load but also causing her to slam hard onto the cobbled ground. I was mortified and she was shocked. I knelt beside her, grabbing her into my arms and carefully lifted her to her feet. At first she was unsteady so I held on to her. She looked up at me, saying nothing, yet somehow saying everything. She gazed at me with her large brown eyes, her full lips slightly parted and I knew, we both knew, we were meant for each other; born to be together, to raise a family, to build a life. My destiny had literally fallen at my feet before me! Or had I tripped it over as it tried to pass me by?

Embarrassed by the attention we had started to attract, she had run off, abruptly breaking our shared moment of knowing. Without hesitation I had followed, watched as she entered the Gilberts home, learnt she was their property from birth. I wanted to know more but as a slave, I had no business knocking on their door without a cause so in desperation I had enlisted the help of James, my brother, who had trumped up some fake message for me to deliver to the Gilberts giving me reason to get inside their house.

Our love blossomed quickly and it was her I turned to when the pain of losing my mother became too much to bear. Within a year we had married and not just by jumping the broom as we had witnessed other slaves do. In fact, there was no broom in sight at our wedding, not even to wave about above our heads as the African tradition commanded. Instead, father had spoken to the Gilberts and together they had permitted a priest and we were allowed to make our vows before none other than God himself. A few months later Betsy was purchased and became the property of my father so we could live together under the same roof and we counted ourselves blessed when he moved us into one of the smaller guest rooms on the lower floor rather than the designated slave quarters in the basement.

He did this not for love nor kindness, but so he could observe us and we found his scrutiny intense. He constantly watched us, waiting for any sign of a baby; another generation, albeit black, to carry on the family name. A task both James and I had failed to achieve.

Until now!

Betsy feels my eyes stroking her and turns to me; Youll tell the General today?

Ill catch him before they sit for breakfast.

Good. I think hell be pleased.

Him but not Gloria.

No, not her.

As if on cue, the servants bell rings at the mention of her name, the chimes killing the morning peace.

Betsy tells me, An hour early. Ill go! Shell want hot water.

No, Ill go; the pails too heavy for you.

Ive carried this and heavier all my life.

Yes, but never like this. Ill go.

She bites her tongue against further debate and lets me take the pail of water from her. 

Youre covered in dirt. Youll need to change…”

“…Before the guests arrive, I know. Its on my list.

I exit the kitchen, hot water slopping onto the hem of my soiled linen shirt as I walk briskly to the call of my brothers wife, already stealing myself for the unprovoked assault that is bound to come.

Gloria! Justice was indeed served the day James married that woman and the fact that the decision was in direct opposition to the advice of our father leaving him without even the luxury of blame, added greatly to my sense of holy payback. I couldnt have prayed for a more troublesome burden to be hung about his neck. Their surprise marriage had come just a few months after our own, so fast that at first it was assumed he had managed to impregnate her and was saving her from both shame and the asylum. But after months it was clear there was no baby and equally clear there was no love. Both had married for other reasons seemingly unknown to even themselves and had willingly vowed themselves to a life-long battlefield.

Even now, on Christmas morning when everyone else radiates gratitude and joy I can hear strained voices long before I reach their door; his and hers, full of whispered hate and dispute. Everything between them is debated, everything an argument. Everything!

Arriving at her door, I set my face to smile, knock firmly and enter at her muffled command;

Good morning, Gloria. Ive brought you your hot water.

The door leading to James adjacent bedroom stands wide open and he sits sulking by the window longing for an escape. His half-grown beard and wayward tousled blond hair makes him look a shaggy mess. I bid him good morning but get no response. Gloria scowls at me, drawing her thick air-tight house robe closer to her body, as if anything under there could ever entice me;

Hezekiah, wheres Betsy? She brings the water in the mornings not you! Or at the very least it should be Lilly.

Lilly is the chubby scullery maid who assists in the day to day domestic chores. Though she looks and speaks as though she is no older than a child, she has actually been with the family longer than Ive lived and I cant think that Ive ever seen her leave the house except for chores and errands. She came to New York from Ireland as an indentured worker when she was just a young girl and nothing has ever been mentioned of any family members so I have always supposed that we are all the family she knows.

I keep my voice cheerful as I answer, Betsy is busy with breakfast and Lilly has not risen yet. Shall I pour it for you?

Gloria glowers at me through suspicious eyes, No, your shirts filthy! Just leave it there. James will pour it.

James, resentful of being asked to do any type of chore, finds his voice and his attitude;     He can pour it.

I didnt say he was unable to pour it, James. I said I didnt want him to pour it.

But why shouldnt he pour it? Hes the slave, not me!

Yes, Im fully aware youre not the slave, James. I was aware of that the day I foolishly agreed to become your wife and soon realized how bone-idle lazy you actually are!

I leave the water and exit quickly before the laughter bursts out of me. I couldnt have hoped for a darker curse on his life.

Across the corridor and a few doors down I stop outside my fathers bedroom. I can hear him coughing, deep rumbles coming from his chest. Maybe now would be the most opportune time to speak with him? Maybe this will raise his spirits, sooth his illness. I take a deep breath and raise my hand ready to knock but before I do the door swings open and the tall frame of my father stands before me, staring at my raised hand, I at him, we at each other;

General!

Hezekiah. He coughs hard; Theres a chill in my room. Can you bring more wood and light the fire?

Of course, Sir.

And tell Betsy to bring breakfast to me here. God be damned if Ill eat with that woman all day long. She has me for dinner, thats more than enough for today.

Yes, Sir.

Did you hear them this morning? Her voice carries all around the city. I dont know how he can bare it day after day. I warned him not to marry her and now he is stuck with it. Well, serves him right. He has only himself to blame.

Yes, Sir. I quickly speak before he can close the door, General, I was wondering if I might have a word with you?

Of course you can. Oh and tell Betsy to bring me a slice of ham and eggs would you? And some bread. Im hungry.

The door closes in my face and I realize my hand is unmoved, still raised and poised to knock. Sometimes, though he will not confess it, my father treats me like a most loved son with his own blood running through my veins. But on mornings like this I am never more aware of my true status of slave.

Nothing more, nothing less. Just his slave.

By the time I return the kitchen is heaving with activity. Breakfast is served whilst the Christmas goose is prepared. Dishes are cleaned, silver polished and steaming pots boil, spewing out a mélange of delicious intoxicating smells.  I set about my duties, working harder than anyone, leaving my mark of excellence on everything I touch so there can be no doubt that it is my hands that have done this, my skills that have achieved this. And all this for my father, that he might be proud.  Even on my slave days my desire is singular; to make him proud!     Anything so that one day he might openly acknowledge me as his son.

His brown skinned, brown haired, green eyed son!

Guests arrive, consuming the already full house with their presence. As always, I turn on my most slavish charm; smiling, polite, meeting every request with an eager readiness. They graciously smile back, amused by my candor and I resent them for it. Gifts are distributed and shared around, each person receiving one. Whilst they gawk and guffaw at gifts purchased with no thought or meaning, I stand obediently to the side, mentally running through my list;

I must get more firewood.

I must tell father my news.

At every opportunity I try to whisper in his ear; Sir, may I have a moment of your time? Sir, I have something I would very much like to share with you, if you have a moment? But he waves me on, tells me soon, later, anytime but now.

Come on Hezekiah, he says, finally, Its Christmas and were about to eat Betsys goose. What can be more important than that?

I tell him nothing but know Im lying.

By one oclock the dinner is placed and served and I watch the dance for power and attention spread around the obscenely large solid mahogany dining table. The General sits at the head, his back straight, rarely smiling, always in control. Gloria has manipulated her way to the other end of the table, sitting opposite the General. This used to be where Maria, my fathers wife sat when she was still alive.  Gloria declared it only right that the lady of the house should fill this chair and so she had claimed the title and filled the seat and there she sits in a gold and purple dress that does not in any way compliment her pale coloring but still she manages to look hideously regal. Or, for clarity, should I say she looks regal and hideous?

James obediently sits to her right, his face becoming flushed; his voice louder and more raucous as he consumes alcohol as a sick man would consume medicine. I note his waistcoat is the exact same print as his wifes dress and combined with the gold trimmed ruffles at his neck he looks like a walking pansy. I have no doubt Gloria made him dress like this out of spite. Shes always finding ways to humiliate him. I think he must hate his wife just as much as I do.

Timothy Hendrix sits next to my father. They are old friends, born the same year. They are the type of friends that can amuse each other with just a look or a poignant glance. The rest of the guests appear to be either widowed or very polished, but nonetheless, shelved spinsters, all friends of Glorias and part of the Society. Betsy thinks the plan is for any one of these ladies to catch the attention of either the General or Mr. Hendrix, both of whom are unmarried and even in this their latter years, are still considered a good catch, mainly due to the weight of their purse and the security it offers.

I myself am seated at the head of the servants table. A tradition started by my mother as both head slave and the Generals mistress; that on Christmas day, rather than postponing our own celebrations until late in the night or the following day, every one of the household eats together in the same room at the same time; including the servants; including we the slaves.

And so today, prayers are said, the goose is carved and in no time the magnificent meal presented as six courses with no less than forty separate dishes of beef, turkey, various shelled fishes, potatoes and other roasted vegetables, plum pudding and an overwhelming assortment of sweet dishes is expeditiously consumed with much praise showered on Betsy as head cook.  In the midst of this and a little intoxicated from too much rich sweet wine imported from France - mixed with several visits to the rum-based punch bowl - Sam jumps to his feet and picks up his fiddle.

Sam is a new slave, not much older than I, who joined us less than a month now. Gloria thought I needed help around the house. It was meant as an insult to me, of course, trying to make out I was somehow not keeping up with my duties, being lazy. But no one was more shocked than both Gloria and I when father actually agreed with her. Said it was a wonderful idea and announced he had been planning to get in another slave for the longest time now, just in case.

I still wonder just in case of what? Im not going anywhere

Am I?

But Sam came with a wonderful gift beyond being a skilled and hard worker. Apparently self-taught, we soon found he could create magic on the fiddle and when he really got going even stone-cold Gloria couldnt resist joining in, tapping her foot, clapping along.

The General and Mr. Hendrix abruptly stand, and with no apology or explanation, take their leave to the adjacent drawing room, closing the door firmly behind them. My eyes flick to James whose smile broadens as he is no longer under the shadow of his father. He sits up straighter, pumping out his chest, laughing at nothing funny. The women laugh with him, at him; maybe both. The plates are cleared and tables and chairs are quickly pushed aside so James has space to jump around, ruffling his peacock feathers. He grabs the hands of each woman in turn and spins them around the room until theyre giddy with laughter. Sam plays faster, louder; Betsy joins in the fun, grabbing Lilly by the hand and skips with her around the room. She throws her head back in laughter and my heart skips a beat. I love her now more than ever.

I must speak to father.

James cuts in, sending Lilly back to the sidelines he grabs Betsy by the hand, placing his own hand firmly on her back, pressing her to him. She tries to push backwards, to create an honorable distance between them but he only holds on tighter, squeezing until shes still and submissive in his arms.

I stand to my feet, immediately agitated. Hes holding her too close and he knows it. He does it on purpose to get my temper raised, hoping Ill lose control and cause a scene. He glares at me above the top of her head and nuzzles his chin close to her cheek. I take a step but Lilly places her hand on my arm, warning me to hold still. Glorias eyes fall on me and so do a number of her female friends. I want to scream at him to release her, but to do so would be unseemly. Hes the masters son dancing with his slave during the Christmas festivities. This would be a good thing in any home.

Except he is also my brother, dancing with my wife.

I stretch my arms, a vain attempt to release the tension growing inside me. Im young and muscular, a good head taller than James.  Betsy says that with my green eyes, Im very dashing, but shes my wife, what else would she say? I feel my muscles flexing, my jaw involuntarily clenching and releasing. James sees my discomfort and smirks, continuing to spin around the room, my Betsy pressed to his chest. I take another step but this time it is Gloria who appears by my side;

Well, if we must dance with the slaves then I suppose I should dance with you!

She holds out her hand, daring me to reject her. Across the room, James throws Betsy back into a clumsy dip causing her small cap to fly off her head. He places his head close to her bosom before sweeping her back up into a messy twirl.  I hear a deep growl coming from my throat and swallow hard to keep my Beast in check. I need a distraction and Gloria has offered me the perfect one. She stares up at me, waiting. I close my hand around her fingers and she, almost triumphantly, attempts to pull me to the center of the room but I hold back, making her give pause. Gloria turns to me wondering if I would ever dare to shame her but instead I smile and taking my place as the man, lead her onto the dance floor and roll her perfectly into position in front of me, my hands holding her firm but not too tightly whilst making sure the gap between us is sufficient, respectful, enough.

And I begin.

Even though its nothing much more than a common jig, I dance with grace and elegance. I waltz her smoothly around the room, letting her feel my lead, my strength. Shes secure in my arms and for once Gloria is silenced. I marvel that in all these years she didnt know I could dance. Didnt she see I had grace? Hadnt I learnt to dance the same time James had learnt? Father had insisted on it. He said if the boy must be black then let him at least be educated and so it was both James and I that attended school and it was both of us who eventually attended and graduated college. I learnt to read with him, to write with him; I studied mathematics, the sciences and Latin with him.

And on all counts I made sure I was better than him.

I swing pass James and give him a side-wards glance, noting how hes grown sulky and is no longer dancing.  The ladies are now all ignoring him and have fallen to whispers behind their fingers or lace handkerchiefs, their attention solely on me. I have stolen the show; even with someone as awkward and unbecoming as Gloria in my arms, I have still out shone him. I feel happy but my happiness is closely followed by a sense of guilt that I should rejoice over something so vain. I catch Betsy staring at me, knowing she sees right through to my heart, and in that one look I feel ashamed.

Not baring to come second and especially not to me, James stomps off to the drawing room, following the steps of his father. He doesnt knock, just bursts the door open, loudly declaring; Father, here you two old goats are. I mightve known youd be at the drinks cabinet.

    The door closes behind him with a loud bang and my agitation returns causing me to miss my step. Though still clutched in my arms, Gloria is near forgotten as I watch the closed door. They are in there; the three men all together to smoke cigars, drink whiskey, talk business and belch out their excessive gasses without the disapproving ears of the genteel women anywhere near.  And here I am, left to the amusement of the women like I am nothing more than a local street urchin. 

Like I am no better than Sam!

I catch my reflection in the large gilded mirror suspended on the far wall.

Am I not a man? Am I not a son also?

My lips have grown stiff but I find my smile and release the still silenced Gloria. A number of the women step forward, glinting at me with their eyes. They want me to dance with them, perform for them. Make them feel alive and female. Let them feel desirable. Or maybe they simply wish to feel desire? I dont wish to appease any of them but Betsy urges me to it with a simple nod of her head and I know shes right. To deny them would only cause unnecessary offense and undoubtedly change the mood of the whole day, which up until now has been relatively joyous and festive. I take the hands of the first woman standing close to me and I begin to twirl her around the room. It doesnt matter who she is and I really cant tell whether shes pretty or not. Shes just another Gloria to me. I wonder that all the Society ladies seem to look alike: Their pale skin glows with a hint of blue; hair kept hidden away under large hats or frazzled wigs; thin, straight bodies more suited to a twelve year old boy than to the mother of your children. I wonder this and can only conclude they are all a very flawed design.

Deep in thought I hear my name called. Automatically I turn to Gloria but see shes engrossed in a deep whispered conversation with two goggle-eyed ladies who grab hold onto every word that comes from her mouth, not caring whether they be truth or lies.

Betsy calls to me, confirming, you were called and I still my feet;

Was it father?

I think it was James.

I smile nonetheless, my dance partner already released and cross the room to the closed double doors.  Automatically my hand goes to knock but then I think of James, how he hadnt knocked; how he had just pushed the doors wide open and entered. I find myself fighting my inner conscience; fighting against my good slave training to always knock, never assume; never take liberties.

I know father will not be pleased but am I not a son also?

My mind made up, I steady my breath, grab the handles and, without the customary knock, I boldly push my entrance.

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Seringapatam wrote 377 days ago

Jacqueline. Wow, very strong stuff and so well written. I can guess by reading it you have put a lot of effort in not only the finished product but also the research and planning of this book. Very intelligent and way above my head but I can see that readers of this genre are going to have a field day with it as its put together so well. You have thrown some really good hooks in there at the right time. Well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. ( B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

Blancherose wrote 496 days ago

Jacquline,

After a read like this one we women have so much to be thankful for these days. Going back in your story to a darker time in history where slavery and a misunderstanding of women and their reproductive capabilities. This page turner is a good read for anyone looking for a story they cant put down. Poetic and realistic and interesting blend-yes it works!
Blessings Roslyn
"I Am" Through the Ages

R. Dango wrote 553 days ago

You really have a very strong story here. And superbly written. Gripping read, that remind us of not only the time of slavery, but also the time that divorce was unacceptable, and women were blamed for not getting pregnant. Hat off!

R

patio wrote 564 days ago

I challenge anyone with a better story than this one. I challenge anyone with a story as dark, explosive and gripping as this one. This story left long lasting effects.

A million plus stars. Six isn't enough

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 570 days ago

Thanks so much for taking the time to review Janet/Helen - yep, I tend to over punctuate - thankfully its now with the editors who are kindly setting this to rights :) - The purpose of the book is to readdress how we perceive slaves and how they were treated. Not all were treated in the same fashion - and the fact that Hezekiah is both slave and son was actually more common than we realize. Hopefully I'll be successful on telling a good story whilst offering another POV on the slave trade. Thanks again :)

A Real Club Review.
A very good story in the making. There are a few punctuation errors which detract a little from the story i.e. in the Prologue - 'The corpse we had both called, Maria.' There should be no comma in this sentence. Also in the Prologue there seems to be overuse of semi-colons and exclamation marks. In the second and third paragraphs there is a tendency to use italics instead of inverted commas to identify dialogue, then to revert to inverted commas, then back to italics. This is annoying when reading. It is also easy to 'miss' dialogue when presented without inverted commas - as in 'I tell him nothing but know I'm lying.'
I also find the position of Zeke in society a little bit cloudy. We are told he is a slave, albeit a slave owned by his own father. Would Zeke (a slave in 1761), address Gloria (the mistress of the house) by her first name, or even at all without being spoken to first? Would he have danced at a Christmas party with 'High Society women' even as entertainment? This somehow does not seem to sit right with the picture painted of Zeke and his wife as slaves.
Apart from the above (only intended as constructive criticism) I enjoyed the story so far, will keep on watchlist and read more when available. Janet

Janet/Helen
The Stranger in my Life

Janet/Helen wrote 571 days ago

A Real Club Review.
A very good story in the making. There are a few punctuation errors which detract a little from the story i.e. in the Prologue - 'The corpse we had both called, Maria.' There should be no comma in this sentence. Also in the Prologue there seems to be overuse of semi-colons and exclamation marks. In the second and third paragraphs there is a tendency to use italics instead of inverted commas to identify dialogue, then to revert to inverted commas, then back to italics. This is annoying when reading. It is also easy to 'miss' dialogue when presented without inverted commas - as in 'I tell him nothing but know I'm lying.'
I also find the position of Zeke in society a little bit cloudy. We are told he is a slave, albeit a slave owned by his own father. Would Zeke (a slave in 1761), address Gloria (the mistress of the house) by her first name, or even at all without being spoken to first? Would he have danced at a Christmas party with 'High Society women' even as entertainment? This somehow does not seem to sit right with the picture painted of Zeke and his wife as slaves.
Apart from the above (only intended as constructive criticism) I enjoyed the story so far, will keep on watchlist and read more when available. Janet

Janet/Helen
The Stranger in my Life

J C Michael wrote 581 days ago

Exceptionally well written there is nothing for me to critique in the first chapter. Never once did I trip over a word, pause to consider the plot, or ponder upon something that I thought could be improved upon. The genre isn't one I would normally read but you seemed to have the balance of story and detail, fiction and factual legitimacy, spot on. All I can say is "well done", and "good luck with wherever this leads you".

James

jlbwye wrote 593 days ago

Slave. An HFG read.
I have no comments to make on the beautiful poetic prose of your Prologue, because I'm enthralled. Ch.1. brings me down to ear th - just a little.
Punctuated by those words 'I must speak to my father,' I am transported into the world of slavery in New York; complicated slavery. You are weaving a good plot.

Ch.2. The present tense intensifies the immediacey of your story.
I'm wondering if James's gambling nights out and his art shouldnt be mentioned before the conversation with their father, rather than as a consequence of it?
A dramatic chapter, but perhaps with too many changes in direction? Maybe some pruning and refining would make it flow more smoothly. Even, thought could be given to dividing it into two chapters? But it's only my opinion, and it's your book.

Ch.3. A great idea, having the Beast from the Prologue lurking in the background all the time. And pray God the baby holds.

I've enjoyed reading your story, with its promising plot. It needs editing and refining, but we all have to do that, over and over.

Jane.

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 598 days ago

Your writing is very poetic. I like it and you write well, I just don't think it fits with this kind of story. This is an important kind of story to tell so, to me, should be told in a way that every can understand. Not flowery. Your pitch is very good.

Abby



Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on my work, Abby - I'm glad you enjoyed my writing style :). I wasn't trying to be poetic, I write Historical Fiction so it was about getting the rhythm and using the language of NY in 18th Century before America was an independent country and still ruled by England. I love the poetry of old english and I guess I'll be more appealing to that market - hopefully ;) - Thanks again :D

Abby Vandiver wrote 599 days ago

Your writing is very poetic. I like it and you write well, I just don't think it fits with this kind of story. This is an important kind of story to tell so, to me, should be told in a way that every can understand. Not flowery. Your pitch is very good.

Abby

Aba Bairéid wrote 617 days ago

Jacqueline,

Your sister Marva invited me to check out your book. I've only read the prologue and chapter 1, but already I'm happy to give this a thumbs up. The prologue is particularly effective: it 'conditions' the reader for everything coming afterwards. Like all big subjects, slavery has to be given a deeply human dimension in order to be properly explored. From what I've read so far, you've succeeding in that respect. Best of luck with this.

Aba.

Su Dan wrote 621 days ago

fascinating book- interesting idea, great writing style and voice, narrative and dialogue...
BACKED...
read SEASONS

maretha wrote 622 days ago

SLAVE: Escaping the Chains of Freedom/Jacqueline Malcolm
I love historical novels. You build your characters from the start and I enjoyed every word of ch 1. I intend to finish reading everything you've uploaded, but with such a a strong cast of characters, an interesting plot and very good writing, including excellent dialogue I have to rate your story five stars for what I've read up to now. Your book should do well, not just on authonomy, but also on Amezon, and ultimately in paper! :-)
All the best in the days ahead.
Maretha/African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends

Nigel Fields wrote 625 days ago

Jacqueline,
In very short order, I gained a high regard for your writing—pert near immediately! Due to your approach, I could understand Zeke quite quickly as the initial scene unfolded gradually, bit by bit. Your pace is ideal. Love the narrative voice you chose, love the tone. Chapters 2 and 3 keep us JUST AS focused. Kudos. I felt as if I were peering into each vivid scene. From your pitch I realize the plot will thicken, and I am eager to read the rest, but, alas, I’ll have to wait. Highly starred.
All the best,
John B. Campbell (A Lark Ascending)

Elizabeth Buhmann wrote 625 days ago

Jacqueline, this is very impressive! I am holding my breath as Zeke pushes the door without knocking! Your characters, all well drawn, all evoke strong feelings -- sympathy with Betsy (except I am so worried about what's going to happen), admiration for Zeke (but again I'm worried that this man is too proud and that he will be struck down by his "owners"). Gloria is positively sinister, and James, being a lesser man and maybe also cowardly, strikes me as dangerous. It's the father that I haven't got the measure of yet. In some ways he seems okay, but he is bound by his belief in a slave system.

Anyway, you have the gift of creating a vibrant story, for sure. Conflict, emotion, suspense -- you've built it all very quickly and surely. I am not only anxious to now what will happen to Zeke and Betsy -- I also want to know what James did in the prologue.

Excellent story, high stars and watch list. Best of luck with this, and I will read more.

Elizabeth Buhmann, The Made-Up Man

Chris Whitson wrote 628 days ago

Wow! Jacqueline, what a wonderful piece! Your writing style is very unique and refreshing to me. I'm so dissapointed that an error on the site occurred and I cannot read past chapter1. My appetitte is soaking and they pulled your tasty feast away.
The prologue was extremely gripping and I knew I was in for a special read. I found the Beast to be eerily breathtaking and forceful. "....the Beast must have his day..." Simply terrific!
The characters are beautifully thought out. Your mysterious and secretive touch were much appreciated. Everything about this is so well done it puts me at a loss for words that would do this story justice.
Chapter 1 contains the most impressive and unique family dynamics I have seen thus far on this site. The descriptions of time, setting, and situations are superb. Your talent is shinig and your story is about to explode into the heavens. My anticipation was at an all time high. I will definitely be back for more. Excellent, just Excellent!!!
It is my pleaslure to give 6 stars and WL for future support of this intiguing story. Masterfully done!
Best wishes.
Chris/ A SPICY HURRICANE

donkeyjacket wrote 630 days ago

Jacqueline/

I have been fortunate recently to have read some mss on this site that smack of enormous promise – and yours stand high among them. Your style is lyrical. Sometimes the poet in me makes me suspicious of a style such as yours, wondering if I am not being served up with a dose of something that is too clever by half – say like in ‘the King’s Magic Suit’.

But I couldn’t fault it – save only that I would have had it compressed just a little, moving the story on a little faster. But then I am an impatient man who does nothing slowly. Even still there were not so many lines in these three chapters that I skimmed.

The painstaking research was evident – and, unlike me who makes it up and writes from the hip then checks the facts afterwards, I can well believe that you had it all at your fingertips before you sat down to pen the first word.

The plot intrigues (never let them persuade you to take out the prologue because it creates that intrigue); the style intrigues and the detail intrigues – but perhaps, overall, a little less is more?

However the potential, in anticipation, earns an above average rating and a place on the shelf.

AJB

Pamela Crabtree wrote 631 days ago

Dear Jaquueline, I've just read your three chapters- brilliant! I was hooked in by 'The Beast', the staccato passages and page layout are so successful, using the writing form to emphasise important points works so well, as in: ' No not her, and again, 'Nothing more nothing less. Just his slave.' Your descriptions are just superb and your use of repitition, as here,: ' Everthing will belong to her, including Betsy! including me! including our child.' The description of James, here: ' James wipes his hands on his trousers; his sweaty, greedy hands.' says it all.
I can't wait to read the rest, the questions of social divides are favourite themes in my own writing.
I love your start and can't wait to read on. I've given you six stars and put you on my watchlist Would you like to be a friend?
Kind Regards, Pamela Crabtree. [The Severed Cord.]

Pamela Crabtree wrote 631 days ago

Dear Jaquueline, I've just read your three chapters- brilliant! I was hooked in by 'The Beast', the staccato passages and page layout are so successful, using the writing form to emphasise important points works so well, as in: ' No not her, and again, 'Nothing more nothing less. Just his slave.' Your descriptions are just superb and your use of repitition, as here,: ' Everthing will belong to her, including Betsy! including me! including our child.' The description of James, here: ' James wipes his hands on his trousers; his sweaty, greedy hands.' says it all.
I can't wait to read the rest, the questions of social divides are favourite themes in my own writing.
I love your start and can't wait to read on. I've given you six stars and put you on my watchlist Would you like to be a friend?
Kind Regards, Pamela Crabtree. [The Severed Cord.]

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 631 days ago

Jacqueline,
Allow me to congratulate you on an outstanding piece of writing. I read all three chapters and if this is not published ...well it will be an awful shame. Have you sent proposals out?
The first thing that struck me is how i instantly felt for Hezekiah and Betsy...I'm guessing that the old General will die and then H & B will be left to the mercy of James (the rivalry here is excellent) and his bigotted wife , Gloria.
I'm assuming you've researched this to a high standard - it's not a subject that i'm familiar with. Would the General have educated Hezekiah at all, taught him dancing etc ???
I cant wait for you to post more and I thouroughly enjoyed this. I would buy it tomorrow AJB xxx



Thank you sooo much - just to quickly answer your questions; yes, I researched this for 6 months before I started writing. I purposefully wanted to show the 'other side' to the slave trade as in those slaves that weren't abused as we know of the abuse of slaves in the south. This book, though fictional, shows what it was like for freed slaves (a hint at where the story goes) and those black people (or should I say African American's) who weren't slaves at all but were actually traders!! it's a fascinating story - I hope I did all my research some justice - thanks again for the lovely comments :)

GOTHIC-PAGE-TURNER wrote 632 days ago

Jacqueline,
Allow me to congratulate you on an outstanding piece of writing. I read all three chapters and if this is not published ...well it will be an awful shame. Have you sent proposals out?
The first thing that struck me is how i instantly felt for Hezekiah and Betsy...I'm guessing that the old General will die and then H & B will be left to the mercy of James (the rivalry here is excellent) and his bigotted wife , Gloria.
I'm assuming you've researched this to a high standard - it's not a subject that i'm familiar with. Would the General have educated Hezekiah at all, taught him dancing etc ???
I cant wait for you to post more and I thouroughly enjoyed this. I would buy it tomorrow AJB xxx

JMF wrote 632 days ago

I have read all three chapters of this and thoroughly enjoyed the read. I like your writing style and the use of the first person works well. I would like more detail of their slave life and how that compares with the lives of other slaves (they clearly live a more privileged life than most). At times it doesn't seem bad enough and I'm sure that is not how it is supposed to come across! But perhaps more detail will be forthcoming in later chapters.
This is obviously going to be a gripping family saga, told from the slave point of view, so this is an original idea. Well done. I shall star highly and I look forward to reading more if you decide to upload further chapters.
A couple of nitpicks:
Ch 1
'not baring to come second' should be bearing.
And again in Ch 2 'a child will be born baring' should be 'bearing'?
All the best with this.
Julia
Shadow Jumper

Margaret Anthony wrote 633 days ago

I've read all that is posted and would have willingly read more.The writing style is unusal and original, but that makes it all the more special. There is so much darkness here; slavery itself, the situation existing within the family, what the future may hold, but it is so subtle and compels me to keep on reading.
Beautifully set up, this promises to be a strong and interesting book. Starred and on my shelf. Margaret.

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 633 days ago

Hello,
I have just read the first chapter and have to say that I enjoyed the read very much. It has been a long time since I read this kind of story, but it felt smooth and familiar, qualities I enjoy in a book. One thing I was a little confused about: is James mixed like Zeke; do they have the same mother? I wasn't clear why he is not considered a slave when Zeke is? Otherwise, this is a great start to your book and I am looking forward to reading more.

Best,
Dyane
The Purple Morrow



Hey Dyane - thanks soooo much for reviewing my work and I'm glad you enjoyed it so far. To answer your question, Hezekiah and James share the same father but different mothers. James is the son of the Generals wife and Hezekiah is the son of the General's mistress. I delve much more into the stories of the two women in the third book of this trilogy so you get to understand how the brothers are actually taught to hate just because of their places in society. I think its an intriguing story - just hope I get enough people to agree with me - heehee - thanks again, Jac :)

Elayne wrote 634 days ago

A powerful opening to a story that is both intriguing and infuriating....in the best possible way. It would be difficult not to feel Zeke's frustrations.

Perhaps a little editing is needed in ch 2 it seems to drag the pace set by other chapters.

And occasionally you have used the word 'bare' instead of 'bear' as in carrying a weight

The first person narrative is ok by me, I can read it just as well as any other.

You have set up the characterisations well, although there are not many redeeming features. You hint at the past and then we discover part of why the brothers hate each other. I don't know how slaves were treated in NewYork at that time, but it does seem fairly at odds that on occasions Zeke is treated as a son whilst the rest of the time nothing more than a slave. I also wonder about Zeke's education, that must have been a trying time being the only black person in a school whose students were only familiar with black people being slaves. I guess this might be delved into later?
A good piece of work that I would certainly like to read more of.

Elayne wrote 634 days ago

A powerful opening to a story that is both intriguing and infuriating....in the best possible way. It would be difficult not to feel Zeke's frustrations.

Perhaps a little editing is needed in ch 2 it seems to drag the pace set by other chapters.

And occasionally you have used the word 'bare' instead of 'bear' as in carrying a weight

The first person narrative is ok by me, I can read it just as well as any other.

You have set up the characterisations well, although there are not many redeeming features. You hint at the past and then we discover part of why the brothers hate each other. I don't know how slaves were treated in NewYork at that time, but it does seem fairly at odds that on occasions Zeke is treated as a son whilst the rest of the time nothing more than a slave. I also wonder about Zeke's education, that must have been a trying time being the only black person in a school whose students were only familiar with black people being slaves. I guess this might be delved into later?
A good piece of work that I would certainly like to read more of.

Patty Apostolides wrote 635 days ago

Beautiful, beautiful story! The beginning was powerful, and caught my attention.

Well crafted, poignant moments, touching and dramatic, and the pace was good. Dialogue was plentiful and it helped move the story forward.

I only had one suggestion - since the beginning begins with the two brothers battling, I presume there is hatred toward one another. When they are older and Hezekiah has James doing a favor for him, that wasn't consistent, given the hatred shown in the scene before..

Good luck in your writing!!

Lenny Banks wrote 635 days ago

Hi Jacqueline, I read chapter 3. Wow, this Is like nothing else I have seen on the site before. I still felt a little like like a screen play, but that gave it its USP. The characters appear to have walked out of a period drama off the tv or a film. It probbaly isn't one fo the pieces I would re-visit myself, but that isn't to say there aren't others who will really enjoy it. I hope you do well with it because it is different.

Kindest Regards and Best Wishes
Lenny Banks - Tide and Time: At The Rock
Any chance of a return read, when you have a chance?

Charlotte12 wrote 635 days ago

Hello,
I have just read the first chapter and have to say that I enjoyed the read very much. It has been a long time since I read this kind of story, but it felt smooth and familiar, qualities I enjoy in a book. One thing I was a little confused about: is James mixed like Zeke; do they have the same mother? I wasn't clear why he is not considered a slave when Zeke is? Otherwise, this is a great start to your book and I am looking forward to reading more.

Best,
Dyane
The Purple Morrow

R.H. Ramsey wrote 637 days ago

I enjoyed this. I love dialogue, it is probably my favorite part of writing as well as reading. Your character had me drawn in from the beginning. Even though I don't generally read this genre, you have really opened my eyes/interests, and I can't wait to read more.

K E Shaw wrote 637 days ago

Hi Jacqueline,
I'm here for the read swop I promised - thought I'd go first, since I made the request :) I enjoy historical fiction, and found the premise intriguing - a slave whose master is his father. The 1st person POV works well for this. The prologue really captured my attention with the description of the beast within, and in chp1 I enjoyed the mini-portraits of the various characters - brother James,and his rather unpleasant wife, Gloria - as well as further insight into Hezekiah and Betsy. The development of their characters and conflicts has been very well done.

One thing that left me wondering - given the 18th century (1760's) setting, I kept finding myself wondering about the dancing scene. I understand that Zeke is the General's son, but he is a slave, and I had the impression his mother was a slave too? It just struck me as highly improbable that his father, brother and the clearly snobbish Gloria - let alone his fathers 'society' guests - would even acknowledge a slave, let alone dance with him in public (even in a private house at a party for guests). I have never heard of this before - wasn't that a big no-no in that era? I gather the ladies wanting to dance are not black slaves - and with James blonde hair, we are told he and his father are white. I'm pretty certain that white ladies of that era would never have engaged in any interaction with a slave (even if his father was a white man) other than to give him orders. Could be wrong - are there some references you could point me to?

Otherwise, I found the tale very engaging.

A few niggles on punctuation. Several times you ended a setence with a semi-colon ; instead of a full stop. Lose all but one of your exclamation marks. The first one in the prologue was fine, every other one should go. Several don't fit at all with their placement, the rest are unnecessary as the story is already speaking for itself, and they distract the eye from the flow of the narrative

D.J.Milne wrote 641 days ago

Hi Jacqueline
I have read the first two chapters and really enjoyed them. Your style in the first person is very engaging and you begin to paint a good picture of Life for Hezekiah in New York and the relationship between his master father and his brother James. The characters of Gloria and Betsy are introduced with a nice pace and you give a realistic feel to them. The news of Betsy being four months pregnant and hose this creates a rivalry with James is that kind of Kane and Able plot line that works well. The end of chapter two with Glory' s fury is a lovely hook into Chapter three.
All in all a nice start and I have highly starred it and will keep it on my watch list. Let me know when you upload more.
Good luck
David (D.J)
The Ghost Shirt

russellb wrote 642 days ago

Great story - writing in the first person does take a while to get used to but chapter 3 really hooked me in!

Nick Santa Rosa wrote 642 days ago

Not my normal subject/topic but, once I got into the POV I found the story easy to follow. Only criticism is the language seems too formal, even for an educated slave of that era. Still, not being familiar with educations levels of the time, I could be wrong. Generally, it seems, at least from this point, well thought out and with a clear direction. Best of luck with it.

Petite wrote 642 days ago

Hey Jac,

I really enjoyed reading this book. You are an excellent writer with great imagination and vision. I was able to visualise the characters as I was reading. I particularly loved reading in 'first person' as the storyline draws you in to how the character is thinking and feeling.

I have recently become interested in Negro Spiritual songs, so reading this book was of great interest to me.

As you know I have always been a big fan of yours, so I know what you are capable of. You go girl..!!!
Maureen x

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 642 days ago

Sorry but i found myself missing sentences then paragraphs as I tried to get to a storyline. I just need more chapters. Maybe then i can enjoy reading it.
Pat



Thanks for your comment, Pat. I guess because I'm writing in first person you're with the character as its happening so the story will only unfold as it goes along. Sincerely sorry you didn't enjoy it - I accept that I'm not going to be to everyone's taste - Jac :)

Eftborin wrote 642 days ago

Sorry but i found myself missing sentences then paragraphs as I tried to get to a storyline. I just need more chapters. Maybe then i can enjoy reading it.
Pat

Jacqueline Malcolm wrote 643 days ago

SOrry it took me so long; went up to Lake Michigan and haven't had internet access. Started reading you book and am really enjoying it. Good storyline and strong writing. you do a great job of describing your characters. wlisted for more later. many stars...
suggest: adding - between twenty and two...
Have you written any more of this stroy?



thanks so much for the comment - yes, the book is actually complete. I just wanted to upload enough so that people can get a feel for the work - if I can't grab someones attention in 3 chapters then I won't in 20!!! ;)

DWBrown wrote 644 days ago

SOrry it took me so long; went up to Lake Michigan and haven't had internet access. Started reading you book and am really enjoying it. Good storyline and strong writing. you do a great job of describing your characters. wlisted for more later. many stars...
suggest: adding - between twenty and two...
Have you written any more of this stroy?

Emma.L.H. wrote 644 days ago

Hello, Jac, here for our read swap. First off, great job with writing this so well in first person. I struggle with this. I think you've done a really good job with this. I skipped the prologue and went straight to chapter one; I'm not a fan of prologues and don't really think they're needed (just my opinion!) Your characters are believable and the dialogue is good. You've got a very interesting premise here and I think this book would appeal to a large number of readers; I'm particularly interested in this time period.

As we are all here to help one another, I'll point out a few nit picks; use them as you will:

The main thing I noticed, there are way too many semi-colons. Cut back on them/replace some with commas or full stops.

Also, some words need hyphenating: grey-black soot; brown-skinned, brown-haired, green-eyed, etc.

When compiling a list, it should be : not ; (...added to my already overcrowded list: I mustn't forget the firewood...)

Other than the issues mentioned above, this is very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your work.

High stars and I'll be popping back to see if you've uploaded any more chapters :-) All the best with this, well done.

R.E. Ader wrote 646 days ago

I don't like reading first person, but you have done a masterful job with this.

RMAWriteNow wrote 648 days ago

Hi Jacqueline; I have read your prologue and first chapter here. It is rare to read two such contrasting chapters in a row but this really worked well. The prologue with its reference to the beast within, and without as it happens, is captivating from the start. Because you write so well I actually found it quite disturbing such was the violent nature of the actions in it. This did work well though and really held the interest of the reader.
Moving on to chapter one and an a completely different tone is employed. The historical element of the book is clearly visible but only so as to set the scene with its vivid depiction of the life of the main characters. The chapter soothes and caresses the required character information out of the scenes and is utterly believable. Well paced and flowing throughout, the underlying feel that the Beast may soon make another appearance keeps the reader enthralled.
High Stars
RMA
The Snow Lily

SteveSeven wrote 649 days ago

Hello Jacqueline,

This is a great story that catches th ereader from the prologue. What a great hook; 'I havbe a beast!' Who could#t carry on reading after that? I love the way you use such colorful language to describe inner experiences. i especially like the line; 'The strong odor...stroking my nostrils'.
Your character development is also strong and the tension in the second chapter between Hezekiah and his son is very well choreographed. It is good to start from a subtle beginning and then slowly into more serious tensions by the son having 'no head for buisness' just when he is needed most.
I also like the way that you give some of the family history in the talk about choosing babies names This is a clever way to paint in the background while still maintaining the reader in the current situation.
All in all a great story with clever and colorful uses of imagery and language.
Well done. Steve

Big Daddy wrote 650 days ago

an excellent work, well set in its period, thought out with an idea to the dramatic development of plot and characters and with that cinematic visualisation I love in a book.

SurNuage9 wrote 651 days ago

As the mother of two young children sometimes it is difficult for me to find the time (or the energy!) to sit down and read a book. However, from the moment I began the prologue I was hooked! Ms. Malcolm's style immediately drew me in, I wanted to know more...I needed to know more! You will not be disappointed with this story!

Marva G wrote 654 days ago

I must start with a confession that Jac is my sister and there will be a level of bias involved. HOWEVER, I have read Slave: Escaping the Chains of Freedom twice and was unable to put it down on either occasion. As a lover of words and the weaving of them, there were so many phrases that caused me to stop, re-read, re-read aloud, quote and blog. Jacqueline is a master of character development and creating believable drama.

Antonius Metalogos wrote 657 days ago

I'm enthralled! Ms. J. Malcolm has written what surely will be recognized as a classic piece of literature in a hundred years from now. This is the kind of book that can stand alongside a Dicken's tale or a work of Dostoevsky and not blush. Tolstoy also comes to mind! Absolutely captivating!
The protagonist is a classic hero. Strong, handsome, intelligent, keenly observant of his inner self, good-hearted but hung with the cruel fate of being born a mulatto slave, son of a white man's black mistress in eighteenth century New York. He has lost his dear mother and blames his whiter brother for her death. The hatred he feels for his older brother releases a raging anger in him which is as violent as any monster ever was and this sets up a terrific tension for the opening of the story.
The first chapter rings true like a well made bell. The development of the story follows the protagonist's day as he awakens next to his beloved wife, another slave, and then goes about his duties through the large house where all the action of chapter one takes place. His observations and interactions with those he meets manage to sketch out the inner workings of the household and to set up the drama that is about to take place later in the day, Christmas Day. There is just enough information given throughout the chapter for the reader to understand what is going on and to see that the hero is poised for greatness and yet tragically drawn to destruction. Yes, this is absolutely first class storytelling! Bravo! Backed with the greatest pleasure and fully starred.

Adam Thurstman wrote 657 days ago

This was a most enjoyable read, very well written and very realistic, I liked the way Jacqueline uses first person POV of Hezekiah and tells the story through his eyes and felt I could conect with him easily. I really like the historical references and feel put into the story. I think this book will do very well and wish Jacqueline all the very best with it.

Adam Thurstman
Israel

Debbie R wrote 661 days ago

I have really enjoyed reading this. The Prologue is full of powerful stuff. It is well-written, has lots of action and introduces us to The Beast.
Chapter one contrasts perfectly in style and pace to the Prologue. We have moved on a year and hear that Heze and Betsy are expecting a baby.
You write very well and your characters are believable, as is the dialogue. I like the way historical element sits so comfortably amongst the characters and in the dialogue.
There is the undercurrent that The Beast may make an appearance again which adds tension, as does Heze attempts to tell his father about the baby.

This should do very well on the site and I am starring it highly.

Debbie
'Speedy McCready'

femmefranglaise wrote 662 days ago

Hi Jaqueline, this is powerful stuff. A great opening, full of unanswered questions that keep the reader hooked. What did Jamie do? Your narrative voice is strong and consistent and your dialogue is good and sounds authentic to the reader. I would dispense with some of the exclamation marks though as they take away from the flow of the narrative. For example, when you say 'Gloria!' and 'I'll go!' There aren't needed in either of these instances. There are a couple of missing commas, which are quite common, goodness knows, I had enough of them myself.

This is a really excellent start and I look forward to coming back and reading more. Lots of stars for you.

Melanie
La Vie en Rosé

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