The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock
Obsession with perspective, I have it. I’m always looking for new and different angles that present a story with fresh (to me) eyes. Nancy Peacock has created such a story with this new release, from the perspective of a former slave as he retells his story as he waits for his execution. Please read on for my review and an excerpt from
The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson
As he waits for his execution, Persimmon Wilson is determined to share his story: he’s far more than the names currently used to dismiss his being. At the heart, this is a love story, not always between a man and woman, but of a man with the life he has lived, and the country he hopes will be better when he’s gone.
Sold by his owner in Virginia to a sugar-cane plantation in Louisiana, owned by Wilson, Persy first meets the woman of his dreams, Chloe. But this is no simple story, they are owned and in no way in charge of their own destiny. A fact repeated often in the actions of Wilson, spurred on by fear and greed. Persy retells his story in chronological order: it’s easy to follow along as event A leads to B and so on. What makes the story relevant is the pain beneath the words, and Persy’s absolute tone of hopelessness as horrific event after event is recalled: with descriptions that bring instant pictures to mind, as the time is instantly accessible.
While often stories of the Civil War focus on the changes to the ‘southern way of life’, the loss of life and emancipation. But what Peacock does that surprised (effectively) is add additional moments with other groups who were effected (positively and negatively) by these changes, the migrations westward to avoid the grasp of the Union army and the anti-slavery laws. The Comanche and other aboriginal tribes – brutally pushed westward away from land and places they’ve known for millennia. The insertion of their reactions, the persecution and even Persy’s acceptance into the tribes and this juxtaposition of refined versus savage.
A slow ride from the external belief that Persy is a thing that is owned for a purpose, to his own realization of his personhood just as his existence is to end hanging from a noose, the story is rich and evocative, bringing into sharp relief the ability of humans to behave in reprehensible ways toward those viewed as “less than” or “different”, all in attempts to serve their own ends for success, power or superiority.
Title: The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson
Author: Nancy Peacock
Genre: African-American, American, Civil War Era, Historic Elements, Literary Fiction, Southern
Published by: Atria Books
Published on: 1 January 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 12 Hours: 37 minutes
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About the Book:
1875: Drunken Bride, Texas.
An ex-slave named Persimmon Wilson awaits his hanging for the murder of the man who once owned him. As he waits, he pens his story.
The journey of Persimmon Wilson takes the reader from the brutality of slavery on a Louisiana sugar plantation to a ranch on the Texas frontier to life among the Comanche Indians.
All through his travels, Persimmon Wilson seeks the one person he loves, a light-skinned house slave named Chloe. When he finds her, she is passing for white and is the wife of their former master.
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.
Read an Excerpt
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Diverse Reads
- Full House Reading Challenge