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The title of Marsha Hunt's extraordinary second novel is imbued with the cruelest irony - and the deepest longing. The time is 1913 - fifty years after Lincoln freed the slaves. But in the genteel community of Germantown, Pennsylvania, freedom is the hollowest of words. Certainly there is no freedom from the shackles of oppression for Theodore "Teenotchy" Simms, a black stableboy at the elegant Holybrook manor, in this pre-World War I enclave of unquestioned privilege. He is haunted by the memory of the beauty of...
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Overview

The title of Marsha Hunt's extraordinary second novel is imbued with the cruelest irony - and the deepest longing. The time is 1913 - fifty years after Lincoln freed the slaves. But in the genteel community of Germantown, Pennsylvania, freedom is the hollowest of words. Certainly there is no freedom from the shackles of oppression for Theodore "Teenotchy" Simms, a black stableboy at the elegant Holybrook manor, in this pre-World War I enclave of unquestioned privilege. He is haunted by the memory of the beauty of his mother and the terrible violation of her death. He is shadowed as well by the shame of his birth - a shame he doesn't understand but forever feels. He can only seek to fit in, to fade into the invisibility whites are more than willing to grant him, until a white man with a secret shame of his own cuts off this avenue of escape and forces Teenotchy to confront his destiny and himself. This man is Alexander Blake, a young English aristocrat on a visit to his aunt and her American husband - a household where the pride and prejudices of the antebellum South flourish on northern soil. In the sweltering heat of a Germantown summer, Alexander's interest in the black stableboy, who is clearly meant for something far better in life, blossoms into an emotion as irresistible as it is dangerous - both for Alexander, who cannot stop it from happening, and for Teenotchy, who for the first time in his life finds himself worthy in the eyes of another. Novelist Marsha Hunt achieves near-Faulknerian intensity and complexity as she blends past and present, human guilt and human endurance in this beautifully woven tale. Whether vividly depicting the savage subjugation of slavery or the different kind of savagery that was its legacy, whether portraying the separate worlds and inner lives of blacks or whites, the author displays a clarity of vision and a beautiful yet powerful simplicity of language. With characters who will burn indelibly into your memory, this poignan

The author of the highly-acclaimed Joy paints a moving portrait of race relations in 1913 Germantown, Pennsylvania. In defianace of the limitations of race, class, and social mores, a young Englishman and a poor, black stableboy form an impossible, magical relationship. "Sincere and original."--LA Times.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Expatriate American Hunt Joy has set her ambitious second novel in Germantown, Pa., where whites still loyal to the Confederate cause, nominally free blacks and formerly slave-owning Quakers live in uneasy interdependence 50 years after the Civil War. Starting off slowly and proceeding with some verbal infelicities, the narrative paints a graphic picture of past horrors and the continuing bleakness of sexual and financial persecution. The plot focuses on Tecnotchy, a young black man plagued by suppressed yet potent memories of his mother's rape and murder 12 years earlier. An inspired gardener and happy protector of wounded animals and people, he has suffered too brutally to respond to a white Englishman's respectful homosexual love, though it offers hope for the future. Unfortunately, Hunt blunts her story's impact by including too many variations on the theme of sexual cruelty and abuse; her characters, black and white, remain caricatures; and even the poignant ending seems a product of the author's rage rather than of narrative inevitability. Jan.
Library Journal
A novel about freed slaves and their children living in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1913 is potentially compelling reading. Teenotchy is the timid 19-year-old boy who works as a housecleaner and gardener in the Quaker home where his mother had worked. When Teenotchy was five, he witnessed his mother's rape and murder--a devastating event that has left him incapable of intimacy. When a young aristocratic Englishman, visiting relatives in Germantown, falls in love with Teenotchy, the results are disastrous. There is rich material for a novel in this unusual plot, but stilted writing and awkward phraseology make it difficult for the reader to sympathize with the characters. The most vivid, and painful, scenes are those describing the sexual abuse of Teenotchy's ``Aunt Em'' actually his grandmother at the hands of her white owner when she was young. It's a shame that this strong subject didn't evince a stronger novel.-- Janet Boyarin Blundell, MLS, Brookdale Community Coll., Lincroft, N . J .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452270619
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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