As I mentioned last month, September's Book Club at the Barn read is the sequel to last month's 'The Kitchen House'. And it did not disappoint!
Glory Over Everything by Kathleeen Grissom
The year is 1830 and Jamie Pyke, a celebrated silversmith and notorious ladies’ man, is keeping a deadly secret. Passing as a wealthy white aristocrat in Philadelphian society, Jamie is now living a life he could never have imagined years before when he was a runaway slave, son of a southern black slave and her master. But Jamie’s carefully constructed world is threatened when he discovers that his married socialite lover, Caroline, is pregnant and his beloved servant Pan, to whose father Jamie owes his own freedom, has been captured and sold into slavery in the South.
Fleeing the consequences of his deceptions, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation to save Pan from the life he himself barely escaped as a boy. With the help of a fearless slave, Sukey, who has taken the terrified young boy under her wing, Jamie navigates their way, racing against time and their ruthless pursuers through the Virginia backwoods, the Underground Railroad, and the treacherous Great Dismal Swamp.
How an author can write two page turning novels back to back, using the same the characters, yet make them so different is an art form to be certain.
When we read The Kitchen House last month, I was swept away into Belle and Lavinia's often brutal and heart wrenching story from its first words. This sequel was more of a slow boil in the action, yet a page turner just the same.
In Glory Over Everything we are reintroduced to Jamie Pyke, Belle's son, only his name has changed and he is living a white man of social status in Philadelphia. There is a crisis brewing in his life and as that crisis unfolds we are filled in on the backstory of how Jamie, now James Burton, came to be in his current situation.
In the beginning, I didn't find Jamie to be very likable and I was frustrated by his demeanor. But as the story unfolds, he reveals more about himself and the way the secrets and fear have affected him deeply.
At the end of the book, there is a transcript of a conversation with the author in which she says, "In Glory Over Everything, I heard Jamie's voice as clearly as I'd heard Lavinia's and Belle's from The Kitchen House. The difference was that both Lavinia and Belle were open to me and very forthcoming; whereas Jamie, a man with a secret, was guarded and kept me at a distance when I first met him. For that reason, I found Jamie both frustrating and intriguing. Fortunately, the other characters, such as Pan, were quite verbal and gave me deeper insight into Jamie, until gradually he became less cautious and was ready to reveal himself."
That is exactly what it felt like reading Jamie's story...frustrating, yet intriguing...until he felt safe enough to tell his story, secrets and all.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt that the story was handled well, there were a few tidy bows at the end that answered questions we were left with after The Kitchen House that I felt were unneeded. Jamie's story, on the other hand, was left with a couple of bows but mostly the unknown and I liked that. He had undergone such a transformation, yet his origin story still had quite the pull on him, so I liked that I didn't know exactly how he would be able to accomplish all that he planned to do.
I'm looking forward to discussing this with the ladies on Monday night. Due to the hurricane, illnesses and other life issue, we are meeting a week later than originally planned. I wonder if they felt the same as I did.
2 years ago