Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

by Sarah Bird


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250193162
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 57,884
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt


Here's the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of a queen and my mama never let me forget it. That's right. Royal blood runs purple through my veins. And I am talking real Africa blood. Not that tea-water queens over in England have to make do with. My royal blood comes from my grandmother, my Iyaiya, as we called her in Fon, our secret Africa language. And don't go picturing one of them sweet old grannies like you got nowadays with linty lemon drops tucked into her apron pocket for the grandkids. No, she had possum teeth, filed to points so, if need be, she could rip an enemy's throat out, for my grandmother was one of the Leopard King's six thousand warrior-wives, what the French called les Amazones.

The second thing you better get straight about Miss Cathy Williams is that, even though I had the misfortune to be born in Missouri nearly fifty years ago, somewhere in the vicinity of 1840 to 1844, depending on how Old Miss told the tale that day, I am not a Southerner. Only two things in this world the South is good for. Hookworm and misery. I've lived here in Trinidad, Colorado, for over twenty years and it'd take chloroform and a gun to ever get me back to the South. What I'm trying to say is I am a Western woman and that is what that dandified reporter from the St. Louis Daily Times never understood about me. Just because I was from the South, that pinch-nosed weasel expected me to be a grinning old auntie, calling him "suh," shuffling her feet, and talking about dem ole days back home. When I didn't turn out to be some green country gal fresh off the plantation never knew the touch of shoe leather and was, instead, a person who could talk just as proper as him when she was of a mind to, here's what that skunk dump wrote in the January 2, 1876, edition of the St. Louis Daily Times. He wrote that I received him "with an assumed formality that had a touch of the ridiculous."

"Assumed"? Because I knew when to say "ain't" and when not to?

How do you answer back to a newspaper? With just a few words, that bowler-hatted jasper made me out to be a fraud and every word out of my mouth a lie. No wonder folks don't believe me when I tell them I was a Buffalo Soldier. Having both my feet amputated last year has not strengthened my case either. The way I'm being whittled down, I reckon I might have another year, two at the most, to set the record straight before they fit me out for a pine box. So, with Miss Olivia Hathcock, teacher at the Trinidad, Colorado, Free School for the Children of Colored Miners, taking down my words that is what I intend to do.

No point in starting off with whatever date Old Miss wrote in her book to record the births of the slaves born onto their miserable tobacco farm off on the far west side of Missouri in a region so Confederate it was called Little Dixie. No, my real life, the one I was meant to have, did not start until an August night in 1864, three years into the war, when I watched the only world I'd ever known burn to the ground and met the man who was to be my deliverance and my damnation, the Yankee general Philip Henry Sheridan.

The first time I laid eyes on Philip Sheridan, the man might of been Satan himself. He was mounted up high on a black horse must of been sixteen hands tall set smack in the middle of fires roaring so loud that Sheridan had to yell orders down to his blue-jacketed demons in a voice that thundered like Judgment Day. The Yank soldiers swarmed through the farm, torches held aloft, kerchiefs tied over their noses against the smoke. Tears washed white streaks down their soot-blackened faces. They were burning Old Mister's tobacco crop and the smell, like ten thousand men smoking stogies, could of harelipped a bull ox.

My little sister Clemmie, a wisp of a girl subject to many a nervous complaint, trembled in terror against me, for the white preacher had warned us that Yankees were minions of Lucifer. "They'll slice you open," he promised whenever the occasion had presented itself. And many times when it had not. "And let their dogs drag your guts out so you can die watching your entrails being devoured."

Sheridan might of been Satan himself, still I could not take my eyes off of the man. When I separated him from his mount, though, I found I was looking at a squatty little fellow with black hair so short it looked painted on, a long body, strong, broad chest, short legs, not enough neck to hang him with, and arms so long that if his ankles itched he could scratch them without stooping. He had a head like a bulldog, big and round, with a hard set to the jaws that signaled once he sunk his teeth into a thing, either him or that thing'd be dead before he turned it loose. It was a head molded by the Creator to do one thing on this earth. And that one thing was fight.

There wasn't but one Yankee fit such a description, the dreaded General Philip "Little Phil" Henry Sheridan. Even the Feds called him "Smash 'em Up" as that's what the young general was given to yelling as he rode, laughing and cursing up a blue streak, into battle.

Old Mister and his Secesh friends despised all Yankees, but they hated Sheridan worse than any other Federal. They called Sheridan's habit of burning everything in his path "despicable and unspeakable savagery and against every rule of civilized behavior." Unlike, say, shackling up humans and working, flogging, or starving them to death. All in all, I was inclined to like the man.

"Burn it all, lads!" Sheridan bellowed over the sound of the flames crackling and roaring. "Burn the Rebels' food and burn what they'd sell to buy food! Burn every grain of Rebel wheat and every kernel of Rebel corn! Burn it to the ground! I want the crows flying overhead to have to carry their own rations!"

Before that moment, I had never heard this exact brand of Yankee being spoke, and though it hit my ear like a handful of pebbles hurled against a window, I had to admit that the General, as I came to think of him then and forever after, could preach him some damnation.

Out beyond the dirt yard where the soldiers had gathered us up at bayonet point, flames flowed over the fields like a river of blazing orange spreading into an everlasting lake of fire. It roared so loud it took me a minute to make out the caterwauling of Old Miss.

"You are the devil, Phil Sheridan!" Old Miss wailed, gathering her three wormy offspring to her side. "The very devil himself, for only a demon of the lowest order would burn out a poor woman with a husband lying fresh dead in her parlor and leave her and these poor innocent children with nothing to eat!"

"Don't be calling me a devil, woman," Sheridan said, his queer accent turning "devil" into "divvel."

"The Union Army has burned your crops, madam, we have not slaughtered your sons. And we shall not be laying a hand upon your daughter."

He pointed a righteous finger toward the pasty-faced Little Miss, trembling in her pinafore worn now to a gray rag beside the two Young Sirs, both bowlegged with rickets.

"You traitorous Secessionists brought this miserable war on yourselves. Insisted upon it. Sought to sunder our country in two with it. War is brutal, my good woman. I do not make it any more so than I must."

The three gray curls that hung down either side of Old Miss's long face hopped around like fleas as she'd had no tonic to calm her nerves for the three long years the Rebellion had been grinding on. "We'll starve!" Old Miss cried, so pitiful you'd of never guessed at the blackness of her heart.

Never of imagined her looking bored and peevish when my grandmother, my Iyaiya, was led away, naked but for a rag twixt her legs, in a coffle of other wore-out slaves, all chained together like fish on a trotline. Old Mister had sold her for ten dollars to a turpentine camp down in Alabama, where they'd squeeze the last bit of work and life out of the captured queen in a dank pine forest. Bored and peevish was also how Old Miss had looked when my mama's other babies were sold away from her. It was how she looked when Old Mister took my beautiful baby sister, Clemmie, up to the house to use like a man uses a wife.

"You have left us nothing," Old Miss shrieked. "Nothing!"

Looking at Old Miss then, with all three of her children alive and clinging to her, their fine house standing proud, I thought, Nothing? Why, that stupid woman hasn't touched even the least little hem of "nothing." But she was starting to, and for that I was glad.

"How will we feed ourselves?" Old Miss whined.

Sheridan roared down at her, "Rebel, don't be adding lying to the crime of high treason against the United States of America. Feed yourselves with the silver you've buried."

That shut her up right quick. We all knew that Old Miss had buried her precious silver even before the war started.

"Or would you prefer that I hogtie your youngest son?" Sheridan asked. "And hold him over a fire until the fat and the truth is rendered out of him?"

We had all heard about how bushwhackers had done just that over to Glen Eden plantation where they had strung Mister Pennebaker up over a low fire until they cooked the truth out of him, and he directed them to the fork above Perkins Creek where he'd buried his valuables in a barrel.

"Might that not encourage you to reveal where you've hidden the spoils which, by all rights, belong now to the Union Army?" Sheridan prodded.

Old Miss's jaw worked as she bit at the inside of her mouth. Her eyes twitched about in the rabbity way she had, but she didn't answer.

"Speak no more of the hardships you've endured," Sheridan said. "Not with more than half a million souls, yours and ours, lying in their graves because, for the most selfish of reasons, you willful, prideful, ignorant, arrogant, traitorous Rebels would destroy the finest country our Almighty Lord ever set upon His benighted earth."

I could see from the start that Phil Sheridan was a serious man.

With Old Miss shut up good and proper then, Sheridan demanded of one of his officers, "Have all the contrabands been accounted for?"

For the first time, the soldiers shone the torchlight upon our faces.

Mama, who was standing to my right, and Clemmie, to my left, huddled up closer against me. Fear was making my sweet little sister vibrate like a hive humming with bees. Old Mister's nasty doings had taken all the starch out of her. And that is why I had been forced to slip a brown recluse spider into his pocket to bite the hand that had interfered with my baby sister. His blood had gone bad and, with all the fit men carried off and no one else left to run the place, he'd had to make Mama overseer. After the bitten hand turned black, Old Miss took her nasty husband into town to have it cut off. But he died anyway. I thought that was the happiest day of my life. This one, however, was showing fair to beat it out.

I wanted to tell Clemmie not to be afraid. That no one's guts'd be getting dragged out by dogs. My little sister had never been able to fully understand that white folks generally preferred the more economically satisfactory practice of working us to death over outright killing.

Me? I was more excited than scared for, no matter how bad the Federals were, I saw no way they could be worse than what we had here.

"Madam," Sheridan boomed down at Old Miss, "are these all your Negroes?"

"All that your cowardly marauders and scavengers have left us," Old Miss sniffed, as though it wasn't the Rebs and general riffraff bushwhackers who'd carried off, first the strong men, then the weak, and, finally, the boys.

A Yankee with silver oak leaves on his shoulder straps stepped up and asked, "Sir, should I confiscate the contrabands?" The officer had the toadying manner of the worst kind of overseer sucking up to the master. I figured him to be either the General's overseer or he was angling for the job.

The General had what you might call a salty vocabulary and he roared, "Colonel Terrill, need I remind you that we are on a ______ foraging mission? And it's been a damn ______ miserable one so far? We've barely liberated provisions enough to keep our own ______ bellies full and you're proposing we add a pack of ______ Negroes to the quartermaster's load? No, Colonel, I'll send a detachment later to take them to a freedman's camp. I've no intention of feeding every ______ pickaninny between here and Washington, D.C."

"Begging the general's pardon, sir," the colonel went on. "I hate to mention it, sir, but your staff's head cook did requisition a helper, sir."

"Solomon needs a helper?"

"Yessir. Cook's helper, General. For the officers' mess, sir."

"What happened to ...? You know." The General circled his hand in the air, urging the name to come forth. "Fat wench. Front teeth knocked out. You know."

"Betsy?" the colonel supplied. "Betsy died of the bloody flux."

The General shook his head and sighed with annoyed regret. "It's what I have always maintained, the Almighty did not fashion woman for the life of a warrior. All right, Terrill, requisition a cook's helper. But I will have no more ______ females serving my staff, do you hear me?"

"Yessir, sir, General, sir. Couldn't agree more, sir. No females, sir."

"Don't want to ______ see them. Won't ______ have them dying around me. The rigors of battle require a man's strong constitution. What is needed is a darkie buck. Stout, husky one with the constitution of a ______ mule."

From atop his fine steed, Sheridan appraised us, his finger twitching back and forth as he passed over first one slumped specimen quivering before him then the next: Auntie Cherry, who was too blind and crippled up to do anything except stick a finger in a baby's mouth when she cried from hunger. Hettie, who, though still strong and able, was eliminated since she was not only female, but also convinced that she was still back in Georgie eating crowder peas, the result of Old Mister laying into her with a singletree yoke several years back. Old Amos, though technically a man, still didn't make the cut as his fingers were knotted up like a corkscrew willow to where he couldn't hold a chopping knife right. Even Maynard, a near-grown man-boy, who believed he should have been made overseer instead of Mama, did not capture the General's fancy.

Then Sheridan's eye fastened on me for, as had become our habit since Old Mister's blood went bad from the spider bite and Mama was made overseer, I was wearing britches and in no wise gave off the look of a female. I felt Mama stiffen at seeing me being included in all this mule talk and her fury jumped into me like a spark off a fuse.

Being treated like beasts at auction didn't bother the rest of them. They were all slouched over and beat-down-looking, trying not to attract attention. They didn't know whether these white Yankee men wanted to free us so they could roast us on spits like the preacher and our masters told us they planned on doing, or if liberation really was at hand. It hardly mattered, though, for we all knew that, one way or the other, long as whites were running the show, it'd be bad for us. So I couldn't fault them for keeping their heads down and waiting for this latest misfortune to blow over.

But in the months Mama had been running the show, me and her had lost the habit of being sized up like broodmares and we both bristled. Iyaiya had drilled it into Mama never to show weakness before your enemy and Mama had passed that rule on to me. Since any and every white man, no matter what color uniform he wore, was Mama's enemy, she drew herself up tall and proud and locked eyes with this general.

In the gaze that passed between them it was clear that Sheridan saw who was before him because puzzlement clouded his expression as two things he had never put together before collided in his head: warrior and woman. He shook his head and moved on to the last candidate, me.

"That one!" He pointed at me. "The tall one there! Splendid specimen."

I brightened. It was hard to hate someone who called you "splendid."

"He'll do," he pronounced. Then General Philip Sheridan spoke directly to me for the first time. "You there," he said. "You won't die on me, will you, boy?"

Whether I was about to be liberated or roasted up, I was hard set on the one thing I'd always cared most about: making Mama proud of me. As I gathered myself up, I thought about Daddy telling me how he'd made his way amongst a certain sort of white gentleman who enjoyed a bit of sass. I judged the General to be of that sort and shot back, "No, sir, I be singing at your funeral, sir. You can count on that."

Everyone except my mother sucked in his breath and stepped away from me. Even Clemmie put some air between us. Sheridan's dark eyes ceased reflecting the least little bit of light and narrowed down to draw a bead on me. If he could of shot bullets from those black eyes, I'd of come down in a pile right then and there. Yankee or Rebel, a white man was a white man, and I had taken a fatal step over the line. Slaves were lashed to death for imagined slights. Who knew what my bald-face sass would get me?

Old Miss's face pruned up with the fear that the Yanks would take out my impudence on her and she went to babbling and wagging her finger at me. "That one. That one is incorrigible. Ever since the bucks were taken and her mother was made overseer after Mr. Johnson fell ill, she has run wild. Lord knows we tried to beat the devil out of her, but he would not come."

"The devil, you say," Sheridan repeated and I knew I was done for. With strong hands to do the job, Old Miss could now order the hide to be whipped off me.

Instead, Sheridan just studied me as he scrunched his face around so that the tips of his black mustache twitched to one side of his mouth then the other. At last, he let out a bark of a laugh and told the colonel beside him, "They told me at West Point that I had the devil in me, didn't they, Terrill?"


Excerpted from "Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Sarah Bird.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Book One: Back South,
Book Two: Heading Out West,
Book Three: Out West,
Book Four: Up High,
Historical Note,
About the Author,

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Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
gaele 6 months ago
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 I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
susan568SW 3 days ago
This is the remarkable story of Cathy Williams the first African American woman to join the Army disguised as a man. She is a slave on a tobacco farm in Missouri when General Sherman burns the plantation and requisitions Cathy as a cook thinking she is a boy. This is the start of her journey that is extraordinary and amazing. The strength and courage she showed came from reflecting back on what her grandmother always told her "you are a daughter of a daughter of a queen". Thank you Sarah Bird for writing about Cathy Williams someone I knew nothing about.
rendezvous_with_reading 6 months ago
Cathy Williams, a former slave, was the first woman to enlist in the US Army and the only one to ever serve with the Buffalo Soldiers from 1866-1868. There seems to be little factual information available about her beyond her army records, showing she enlisted as William Cathay. But, the author has written an engaging, imaginative account of what her military life could have been like. Making Cathy, the granddaughter of an African warrior queen of the legendary Dahomey Amazons, she is raised on stories of the brave line of females she descends from. At 5'9", Cathy can easily blend in as a man and choses to do so for her own protection when General Sheridan comes through and recruits her into his army to assist the camp cook. When the civil war ends, she has no home and the south is in ruins, so Cathy chooses to enlist in the Army as a Buffalo Soldier; seeing it as an opportunity to support herself. Living in disguise as a woman is no easy feat, especially in an army of men moving westward. Cathy binds herself, forgoes bathing and more when privacy is lacking. She has to perform hard labor in hot weather and does so in full uniform to remain concealed.It doesn't take long for her fellow soldiers to be suspicious and bully her, thinking she's overly modest with something to hide. Living among men hardened by war also exposes her to their crude ways and speech. She is always afraid that if her identity is discovered, her fellow soldiers will turn on her and abuse her. I thought the author did a great job at imagining Cathy's experience. Though uneducated, Cathy is shrewd, discerning, and very likable. Its easy to appreciate her spunk and practical manner despite the hard life she's been dealt. Some may find the dialogue can be abrasive to our modern sensibilities. I know I cringed at times Though the novel is 399 pages, it does move along quickly, and I really wasn't ready for the ending. I felt like I wanted to follow Cathy's story further, but as the author's note explains, historical facts do not give us alot of later information on Cathy. Though this is mostly fictional, it does bring attention to an amazing woman that might otherwise continue to be an obscure part of history. This fantastic cover reveals the two sides of Cathy; the William she presents to the world and the feminine Cathy she keeps suppressed, but longs to reveal.
Nurse98 6 months ago
Ok, this was a great book. But I warn you "Book One" is slow and there were times I thought I would stop reading. It just sort of trudged along. The story was intriguing enough that I wanted to persevere so I could find out how Cathy made it through the war, and how she became a buffalo soldier. I am so so glad I did. Book One sets up the story so that you better understand some things later on, I just wish it didn't do it so so slowly. However, once you make it to Book Two it picks up and it is a page turner from there. Cathy is one of the most interesting characters I've read about. I know this account is fictionalized, as not much is know about her, but it sure is fun to imagine.
JCNash 6 months ago
This is really a 2.5 out of 5 star read for me, but I rounded up just because I loved the story. Cathy Williams is a slave when General Sheridan of Union forces frees her and takes her on to be an assistant cook during the Civil War. When the Civil War ends, Cathy decides to disguise herself as a man and join the U.S. Army, believing this to be her best opportunity to leave the South and truly be free. Based on a real woman, this historical fiction account of the Civil War and the years after were tied in nicely with true historical figures and events. The novel is clearly well researched; I was most fascinated by the Army's dealing with Native Americans after the Civil War. I found the writing to be a bit clunky. Told in first person, Cathy's dialect did not read easily and also wasn't terribly consistent. While first person narration is not typically a problem for me, I didn't feel it worked very well in this novel. I also felt that this book is about 100 pages too long; some of the Civil War stuff I found redundant and unnecessary. Overall, a fine read and an interesting story from the Civil War period that might not have been told otherwise. I received a free review copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review..
Beartracker 6 months ago
If you love historical fiction, you will absolutely love this book. It tells the tale of Cathy Williams, who was the only woman documented to have served in the U.S. Army with the Buffalo Soldiers. She hid her identity and served two years before she was found out. She was a real person and she really did this, but the novel is fiction based on her story. Still, it’s a wonderfully fascinating tale of a very courageous and bold woman. Her grandmother was a queen in Africa, but she was kidnapped and ended up in slavery in the southern U.S. Her daughter and granddaughter (Cathy) were born into slavery. The story begins during the Civil War, when General Philip Sheridan selects Cathy to come along with his entourage and be his cook’s helper. She is forced to leave all that’s left of her family, her mother and little sister. She sees the war end and her people freed, but then they have to find something to do. She was a cook’s helper, so she has skills, but she doesn’t want to be a laundress or a cook, two of the very few jobs that were available to women at the time. She and her friend, Solomon, who was the cook she worked for and who now wants to marry her, decide to go into the Army. Without giving away any spoilers, Cathy ends up enlisting in the Army alone. She is sent west, supposedly to fight Indians. But, the cowardly commander of her post has other ideas for the soldiers. The story has a lot of very tense moments. She’s a woman living in a very dangerous situation. She’s alone and has few friends and can really trust no one. The work is very hard and the conditions are really bad. Weather is hot and there is no shelter at the fort at first, since it was burned down. She constantly has to struggle to keep her identity hidden. To complicate things, some of the other soldiers bully her all the time. But she has great marksmanship skills and gains their respect eventually, but it doesn’t completely stop the bullying and harassment she has to endure for being “different.” Even though the men don’t know she’s a woman, they sense that she is different somehow. Her situation is further complicated because she met the man who is now her Sergeant previously, when she was on the wagon being transported to General Sheridan’s camp. He does not recognize her though. The tale is very complex and intricately woven. I was so absorbed in her story that I didn’t want it to end. I even went on Google to see if there is more information out there about her life. She’s a fascinating historical figure and one that I have never heard about before. It’s sad that our history books don’t tell the stories of people like Cathy Williams. She deserves a place in history. This book should be made into a movie so that her story can be shared more widely. The book was very well-written and I enjoyed the author’s take on the story. We don’t know all that much about Cathy Williams, but this book gives her interesting life a new audience and hopefully will lead to more research so we can learn more about her. I think this book would be appropriate for history classes since it presents a first-person look at the Civil War, the Buffalo Soldiers, and life on the frontier. It also shows how poorly the black people were treated by just about everyone they encountered in those days. They may have gained freedom, but they were still in a bad situation. The sort of insider’s view that a reader gets in a book like this is invaluable for teaching these lessons.
lostinagoodbook 6 months ago
This book troubled me from nearly the beginning. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.it but I could feel there was something wrong. I gradually came to realize that the problem lay in how the people of color were portrayed in the book. Not only were the voices problematic but they were written in cliche. You know what this reminded me of? Gone with the Wind. That is NOT a good thing. African-Americans were consistently shown to be mulish, ignorant and backwards. The lead character was supposed to draw strength from her heritage. Her mother stressed her being the child of a strong warrior woman from Africa, but the actual connection to her heritage was written in such a way as to be purely tenuous and superficial. One scene in particular was absolutely ridiculous. Cathy, as an enlisted Buffalo Soldier, has to hide her gender but her fellow soldiers are suspicious. As a trial she is forcefully put into a room with a prostitute, while her fellow soldiers listen at the door. What followed was a ridiculous farce. Cathy banged on the bed while encouraging an unfortunate, intoxicated sex-worker to pray loudly to “Hell Mary” for forgiveness for her sins. The ensuing noise convinced the soldiers that Cathy MUST be a man and hella good at sex besides. This was scene belonged in a Mel Brook’s comedy. It was demeaning, ludicrous and repellent. I won’t even go into her depiction of First Nations people. They were props. Like the stand-in, life size cardboard figures you see in a movie theater. This is not historical fiction. It’s just fiction. Loosely attaching your character to a real person’s history does not lend credence to your story. I found the entire book odious. I’m sorry I read it. The real life Cathy Williams deserved more. This is why we need more books written by people of color. Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley
bamcooks 6 months ago
This is a fictionalized account of Cathy Williams, a young slave woman who was taken as 'contraband' by General Philip H. Sheridan during the Civil War, traveled with his army working as a cook, and then disguised herself as a man to join the Buffalo Soldiers after the war, where she served for two years (1866-1868). Cathy always claims to be the daughter of a daughter of an African queen, one of the Amazons, and as such, I think I would have liked her to be portrayed as a little more wild at heart, perhaps a little more viscous when seeking revenge. A lot of this story concerned prejudice. The Civil War was fought and African-Americans freed from slavery, but that didn't mean they were received into American society with open arms. Out on the Western frontier, one of the Buffalo Soldiers says, "Why do they need the black man? To kill the red man so they can steal his land for other white men." Harsh but true. Cathy falls in love with her commander, a man who wants his squad to be the best group of soldiers ever, a man with lofty ideals, hopes and dreams of justice. But soon he is forced to admit, "Army can make a white man salute the uniform, but it can't make him give a man the respect that goes with it." Just how could Cathy have fooled everyone for two years, you wonder? Never bathing with the men, never urinating in their presence, and how about 'the monthly visitor?' Did she walk the walk, talk the talk? Sarah Bird cooks up some interesting ideas and deftly places the reader in this situation and makes one squirm along with Cathy. Her characters have walked off the pages of history--the usual mix of good and bad people. General Sheridan is particularly interesting and there's even a visit or two from the foppish George Armstrong Custer. The pace of the story lags at times but is rescued towards the end with more action. This Is a very interesting bit of our American history that the reader may not know much about. Just a note: I had to wonder why the assassination of President Lincoln was never mentioned, but the bad handling of the Reconstruction by President Andrew Johnson was brought up. Curious. I'm sure these soldiers would have mourned the loss of the Great Emancipator. I received an arc of this work of historical fiction from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Book Review: Daughter of A Daughter of a Queen Author: Sarah Bird Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Publication Date: September 4, 2018 Review Date: August 21, 2018 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is the historical novel of a actual woman named Cathy Williams. Also known as William Cathay. Her mother’s mother was an African Queen before she was stolen and forced into slavery in the American South. She worked as a cook in General Philip Sheridan’s camp during the Civil War. When the Union won the war, she enlisted in the Buffalo Soldiers Cavalry, as a man. She was a soldier out West with the Buffalo Soldiers for two years, presenting as a man the entire time. In addition there is a passionate love story that winds throughout the entire book. This was an extraordinary book. Not only was the story itself incredible, the writing by Sarah Bird was just perfection. The plot was fascinating, complex, full of surprises and satisfying. And the language and imagery were breathtakingly gorgeous. If you like stories about the Civil War, about the all-Black company of Buffalo Soldiers this will be a fantastic read for you. If you love African-American literature, you’ve got to read this book. One of the best, of the many books I’ve read this year. 5 Stars! Highly, highly recommended. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and both Amazon and Barnes and Noble when the book is published, as both do not allow reviews until publication.
PegGlover 6 months ago
Cathy Williams was the daughter of a daughter of a Queen. And, although she was a slave, she never thought of herself that way. She was a captive, just like her grandmother was. During the Civil War, Cathy worked as a cook’s assistant under General Sheridan, but when the war ended, she disguised herself as a male, and joined an all-black regiment, called the Buffalo Soldiers. They were charged with the mission of bringing peace and order to the West. Their assignment was to hunt down the Indians responsible for terrorizing and massacring western settlers. This is a powerful novel about a piece of history that is difficult to read about. The story is illuminating and poignant. It was enlightening to learn, how differently, Cathy was treated by her fellow soldiers, even though they had no idea that she was a female. This book is superbly written and immensely captivating. I loved how the author brought history and the characters alive, especially Cathy Williams. I enjoy reading about strong women, and Cathy Williams was extraordinary. I highly recommend this heartbreaking, and touching novel. Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy. I absolutely loved it!
Jolie 6 months ago
I don’t read historical fiction. I don’t like it. The few historical fiction novels that I have read bored me. I almost decided not to read Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. But, seeing that it was about a woman who joins the Buffalo Soldiers, my interest was caught. I am glad that I decided to read this book because Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen was fantastic!! Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen starts with Cathy being taken from the plantation by the Union Army. Mistaken for a boy, Cathy is soon found out by the cook for General Philip Sheridan. After the Civil War, Cathy was ready to start a life with Solomon, the cook, when he was killed by ex-Confederates. Grief-stricken, she joins the Buffalo Soldiers as a man. But fate has a funny way of throwing wrenches into the best-laid plans. Cathy is confronted by a past love that she thought was long dead. What will happen if she is found out? Does her story end with the Buffalo Soldiers? Or does she get the happily ever after that she deserves? I liked Cathy. She was able to adapt to any situation that was thrown at her. She deeply respected her mother and father. She took all the lessons that her mother taught her and used them during her time with Sheridan’s army and the Buffalo Soldiers. I did feel bad for her when she realized who Wager was. Even more so when she couldn’t tell him who she was because she was masquerading as a man. I thought the way Cathy dealt with her enemies in the book was great. Except for Old Mister, she didn’t have to resort to violence to deal with them. Old Mister, though, was a special case. He was sexually abusing her younger sister. She did what she felt was right to protect her sister. I loved reading about Cathy’s time with the Buffalo Soldiers. It was informative and eye-opening at how released slaves were treated after the war. The soldiers were used as free labor at the Army base. They were treated horribly. I also thought it was eye-opening at how long Cathy went without being discovered. It was a long time. There was a twist at the end of the book that I wasn’t expecting. I did have to reread the last chapter a few times to get it through my head that what was being implied was true. That twist was something that I didn’t see coming and made me think about what happened after the book ended. The author did include a historical note about General Sheridan and Cathy. Up until the note, I didn’t think she was real. Then I googled and oh, boy did I feel silly. I am not going to say much, google the name. There is a lot of information there. **I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**