Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird comes to the blog today with a fictionalized biography of Cathy Williams, born into slavery yet finding her own path in

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

Told since childhood that she was not ‘just’ a slave, but the latest in a long-line of warrior women, destined to remember and fight against her captors, using determination and skill to fight her way to freedom. And Cathy William’s story is an intriguing one, the truth that is, although details are sparse. Yet Bird does attempt to bring some depth and not a little artistic license to the story, most of which works nicely, despite the general niggles of unease and rather stereotypical characterizations.

At first, Cathy’s story is intriguing, if she is a bit too ‘openly strong willed’ to feel authentic. Personal convictions are hard elements to illustrate, but the near-flippant attitude would NOT have gone over well in the time or situation. Perhaps it was her ‘intractability’ that led her to catch the eye of Union General Sheridan, the first taste of freedom, if still in domestic service, of her young life. With the war ended, and the south having {predictably} lost everything, she’s not planning to return to ‘domestic service’, knowing that her choices are limited. So, disguising herself as a man, she heads off to join the Buffalo soldiers, a unit of black soldiers in the still segregated Union {or US} Army.

There’s the general gist of the story, and an intriguing one. But there are several issues that I had with the development and progress that I feel took this book, and its potential, down several notches. First – the stereotypes, and they are glaring: each black man, woman and child encountered could have been snatched out of any southern newspaper’s reasons to justify slavery and subjugation. Ignorant, lazy, often leaning to the ‘disreputable’ edge of the spectrum, and the disrespect shown the men of the Buffalo soldiers. Many tracts and histories have been written about this unit, and those seem to have been brushed aside for artistic license and to serve the author’s vision. The Native Americans also received a brusque hand, little to no differentiation of tribe, reason or even any sort of conflict that would hint to the complexity of their social structure, beliefs, tribes or even their fight to hold onto a place in the world. Another element missed that could have brought this from meh to truly engaging and solidly relevant to the time. Lastly – the romance. I haven’t a clue why it was included but to draw in more moments to show readers another side of Cathy, but please don’t make me believe that this woman, so solidly self-sufficient, clever and determined HAD to have a man to be special and function. It just didn’t work.

What Bird did do, frequently, is provide a solid person in Cathy – one who actually came to life and felt human and plausible, if not entirely historic in the book. But the use of “dialect’ in speech, the stereotypical portrayals and romance that felt ‘unneeded’ to give the story it’s oomph – I can’t actually say that I didn’t struggle to move past the first half of the book, and did so only because I hoped that the errors in direction and characterization would be sorted out

 

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

Title: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen
Author: Sarah Bird
Genre: African-American, Historical Fiction, Setting: American
Published by: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1250193168
Published on: 4 September, 2018
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 416
Audio Length: 18 Hours: 23 minutes
Rated: two-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo Downpour IndieBound GoogleAudibleDirect from Publisher
See this Title on Goodreads

The compelling, hidden story of Cathy Williams, a former slave and the only woman to ever serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of queen and my mama never let me forget it.”

Though born into bondage on a “miserable tobacco farm” in Little Dixie, Missouri, Cathy Williams was never allowed to considered herself a slave. According to her mother, she was a captive, bound by her noble warrior blood to escape the enemy. Her means of deliverance is Union general Phillip Henry “Smash ‘em Up” Sheridan, the outcast of West Point who takes the rawboned, prideful young woman into service. At war’s end, having tasted freedom, Cathy refuses to return to servitude and makes the monumental decision to disguise herself as a man and join the Army’s legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

Alone now in the ultimate man’s world, Cathy must fight not only for her survival and freedom, but she vows to never give up on finding her mother, her little sister, and the love of the only man strong and noble enough to win her heart. Inspired by the stunning, true story of Private Williams, this American heroine comes to vivid life in a sweeping and magnificent tale about one woman’s fight for respect and independence.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

About Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR's Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams' story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.

 

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