"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

This book is wonderfully written, and opens up people's eyes to see the ENTIRE aspect of slavery that people may often overlook.

In summary,Henry and Caldonia Townsend are black plantation owners in Manchester County, Virginia. They are highly respected by most everyone in the county. Henry himself was once a slave for Mr. Robbins, and it is Mr. Robbins who helped Henry to become the plantation owner he is today. In the beginning of the book, Henry dies at a young age, leaving Caldonia (his wife) the sole owner of the plantation. Though they are her slaves, Caldonia still treats them like humans. Her daily discussions with the married slave overseer, Moses, eventually leads to an affair between the two.

The many daily occurences-both good and bad- that go on in the Townsend's slaves' lives are revealed in snippets throughout the book, making it hard to put down. Church services the slaves have on the plantation are described, punishments for disobedient slaves are seen, and the yearning that some slaves, such as Moses, have for freedom is brilliantly revealed. Additionally, the book follows an affair between the white Mr. Robbins and one of his slaves. The two go on to have children together, and one of them eventually marries Caldonia.

This novel is so engaging because it opens people's eyes to all circumstances of slavery. People see how slaves themselves viwed slavery, how plantation owners viewed it, and how others such as deputies and on-lookers viewed this matter.

Additionally, the book is very historically accurate. It mentions the Underground Railroad and US Census statistics, which further strengthened the book.

This book was overall great. It is very easy to read. It provides a number of different viewpoints that people had in this trying time over the slave issue. The only downside to the novel is that it gets off to a somewhat confusing start with all of the characters. However, there is a character list in the back of the book which greatly helps to keep track of who is who. As the novel progresses, it becomes more and more engaging with each turn of the page.

This book is amazing, and would most likely be enjoyed by anyone, no matter if they are interested in history or not. Most definitely this is a must-read.

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