Myra Hargrave McIlvian
Publisher : Indies United Publishing House, LLC; 2nd ed. edition (September 9, 2022)
Language : English
Paperback : 326 pages
ISBN-10 : 1644565137
ISBN-13 : 978-1644565131
Item Weight : 13.9 ounces
Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.82 x 8.5 inches
BOOK BLURB: It is 1875 in Texas, and Albert Waters takes pride in his image––prosperous merchant and plantation owner who freed his wife’s slaves before the Civil War and gave them land after her death. Then his son Toby, ready to depart for Harvard Medical College, demands answers. Was his mother a slave?
Al and the Waters plantation co-operative of former slaves create a community that prospers as they educate their children and work their land. They organize against political forces regaining control through rape, murder, and the rise of the KKK.
In the midst of all the turmoil, Al believes he has been given a new life when Amelia, his long-ago lover from Indianola, comes back into his life. But in the rapidly changing world swirling around him, Al will have to confront the image he has held of himself if he wants to keep Toby and Amelia, the two people he loves most.
REVIEW: This was an interesting look at life in Texas just after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Everything was well-researched and historically accurate, all that couched in a story about relationships that were impacted by the war and it’s aftermath. The tension between Albert Water and his son, Toby, propels the story initially when Toby decides to acknowledge his black heritage and no longer pass for white. His mother was a slave woman with whom Albert had a liaison.
This tension ebbs and flows throughout the rest of the story as both men try to form that unbreakable bond between father and son. At times, I thought they were belaboring the point too much and too often, and the push-pull between them didn’t always come across as real. But when it did, it was poignant and heartfelt.
I especially liked the working co-operative that is formed on the land between the former slaves and the Waters family. Albert shines as a character when he interacts with the people of color, especially the children, two of whom he takes great care of when they are orphaned. His stand against the KKK was also a stellar moment for Albert as a man.
There were several plots and sub-plots in the book, and the other major plot was between Albert and the woman he had loved and lost many years ago. When he finally finds her and they are reunited, Amelia becomes a strong figure in the story-line, supporting Albert in his efforts to protect the people on his land that he feels responsible for. She also challenges him to find a place of peace with his son.
The book is filled with memorable characters that will stay with a reader long after the story is finished, and I highly recommend it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Myra Hargrave McIlvain is a teller of Texas tales. Whether she is sharing the stories in her books, her lectures, or her blog, she aims to make the Texas story alive. She has freelanced as a writer of Texas historical markers, written articles for newspapers all over the country, as well as magazines such as Texas Highways.
McIlvain has written six nonfiction books about famous and infamous Texas sites and characters. Her most recent, Texas Tales, Stories that Shaped a Landscape and a People, is a collection of 113 of her favorite Texas history blog posts.
McIlvain’s historical fiction includes Stein House and The Doctor’s Wife, both of which chronicle the development of the thriving German seaport of Indianola on the Texas coast. The characters in those award-winning books have recently returned in Waters Plantation a sequel that opens in 1875 post Reconstruction Washington County.
She has a video on You Tube from a presentation at Malvern Books in Austin where she shares a bit about the book and reads an excerpt. It was nice to meet her there, even though it was only a virtual meeting.