by David Fuller
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Sweetsmoke by David Fuller

The year is 1862, and the Civil War rages through the South. On a Virginia tobacco plantation, another kind of battle soon begins. There, Cassius Howard, a skilled carpenter and slave, risks everything—punishment, sale to a cotton plantation, even his life—to learn the truth concerning the murder of Emoline, a freed black woman, a woman who secretly taught him to read and once saved his life. It is clear that no one cares about her death in the midst of a brutal and hellish war. No one but Cassius, who braves horrific dangers to escape the plantation and avenge her loss. As Cassius seeks answers about Emoline's murder, he finds an unexpected friend and ally in Quashee, a new woman brought over from another plantation; and a formidable adversary in Hoke Howard, the master he has always obeyed. With subtlety and beauty, Sweetsmoke captures the daily indignities and harrowing losses suffered by slaves, the turmoil of a country waging countless wars within its own borders, and the lives of those people fighting for identity, for salvation, and for freedom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781410411846
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 01/07/2009
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 561
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

David Fuller has been a screenwriter for 25 years. He became fascinated with the role of African Americans in World War II as a young man when he befriended an African American pilot and worked closely with him for years. Fuller lives in Los Angeles with his wife, a VP for Twentieth Century Fox, and twin sons. Sweetsmoke is his first novel.

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Sweetsmoke 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the most touching and heartbreaking story of slavery I have ever read. I'm actually listening to it on Audio and the narrator is EXCELLENT. I could not have gotten the same out of this book if I would have read it on my own. He puts in the accents and Southern 'draws' to where you can actually visualize the places, the roads, the towns, the tobacco fields, the clothes and the 'big houses'. I now want to re-watch 'Roots' with more understanding. The Blacks in America were treated horribly. Not half as bad as the Indians however, because the Blacks (as stated in this book) were cared for, fed and clothed as they were considered property. The Indians were thrown on reservations and forgotten. Both are scars on America history. The key word here is 'history'. Hopefully we have learned to appreciate what price our ancestors have paid for our freedom. This even includes women. We are all free and have the right to vote. All of us!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! As much as you always think you know about slavery,you just read this account you cannot imagine how any human being can abuse another such as the treatment Cassius is given in this story. The strength and courage of the "Human Spirit" to actually live through it is amazing!!!
Whitney13 More than 1 year ago
SWEETSMOKE is a deeply compelling novel set in the world of Civil War Virginia. Cassius, David Fuller's protagonist, is a brilliant creation. He's a three dimensional character unlike any other I've read. I was captivated the voices and situations Fuller created. A definite five star debut!
Wisteria-L More than 1 year ago
Sweetsmoke, is the name of a fictitious southern plantation owned by Hoke Howard. The story takes place sometime during the Civil War when the roles of owner and master are hanging in the balance. Slaves are running to taste freedom and owners are desperate to maintain the status quo by creating horrific examples of those who dare to flee. Both master and slave are afraid, for the future is precarious and unknown. Hoke Howard is the owner of Sweetsmoke consisting of the land, tobacco crop, livestock and most important of all his slave chattel. Cassius is one of Hoke's favored slaves and for some unexplained reason he is treated differently. Their unique relationship is noticed by the slave community as they perceive freedom given to him that others do not have. Emoline Justice is a freed slave living in town who was once owned by Hoke. She lives in town and is a conjurer, a healer, who nurses Hoke back from a serious injury. During the time he spends with her he learns to read, a punishable offense, often by death. This being Cassuis' weapon, he keeps his secret from everyone. One day, Emoline is found dead, murdered by a crushing blow to her head from behind. Cassius becomes enraged with anger when he is told and has no choice but to seek vengeance for the death of his friend and teacher. To search for the killer, Cassius must leave the plantation requiring all his wit and skills to survive. He has never had so much freedom, but will he run given the chance? Fuller's storytelling is mesmerizing as he unveils hidden secrets of the Sweetsmoke Plantation that intertwine between the slave quarters and the big house. His book is destined to be a major classic of American literature. It should be included on any reading list choice in high schools where there is an American History curriculum and also included in the study of US History in college. David Fuller's writing is beautifully poetic, written with lyrical verse and deep passion. He is an accomplished storyteller whose years of screenwriting experience shows in this debut novel. As in any great movie, I couldn't wait to find out what happens. At the same time I wanted to savor the story and prolong the ending. Let's hope his next book is not too far in the future.
FootballChick More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I never wanted to put it down and was sorry when I finished it. I liked the style of writing where it is not alot of he said then she replied, etc. It is writen as though you were there during the conversations. I prefer that. The story is centered on a slave named Cassius and follows him and his fellow slave folk on the SweetSmoke farm during the Civil War. He has always wanted to be a Free Black and there may be an opportunity to achieve that. First he feels it necessary to solve the murder of the woman who cared for him when he was beat close to death. Perhaps even exact some revenge and retribution. The entire story is extremely fascinating and has lead me to read more slave themed books. I highly recommend this book.
peters365 More than 1 year ago
This book is very well written, full of imagery, deep and complex characters and heart wrenching emotion. This was a terrible time in our history and this book captures it fully. Cassius and Hoke, the main characters, will probably always be a part of my life from this point forward.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I've been anticipating reading David Fuller's first novel Sweetsmoke since it was released by Hyperion Books at the end of August.

I was captured by the cover image - work worn, lined, loosely clasped hands and I wondered the story behind them.

Fuller spent eight years researching this amazing novel. It tells the tale of Cassius, a slave and carpenter who lives on a tobacco plantation in Virginia. It is 1862 and the Civil War is in full swing. Interestingly Fuller found family connections to both sides of the War during his research.

After suffering a brutal punishment at the hands of his master Hoke Howard, Cassius is allowed to heal at the home of Emoline, a free black woman. Emoline secretly teaches Cassius to read and write. It is these secret lessons that ignite a need for knowledge, a want to know the world beyond the plantation.

"Cassius drove himself toward his journey in a step-by-step fashion, willing to risk everything, to know. To know."

When Emoline is murdered and it appears that no one cares to find the killer, Cassius vows he will find the killer and seek justice for Emoline.

This is a story with many threads, all of then engrossing. Life on the plantation, attitudes and the War are all portrayed with accuracy and detail, bringing to life this period in history. Fuller has also brought to life the lot of a slave, humanizing historical fact, in all it's shame. Although all the characters evoke strong emotions, it is the character of Cassius that kept me reading non stop. His journey towards knowledge and justice, combined with the mystery of Emoline's death is a gripping tale.

Sweetsmoke will be joining another similar book - "Rush Home Road" by Canadian Lori Lansens on my favourites list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Life on a tobacco plantation circa 1862 is the background of this fascinating novel. It is the eve of the great battle of Antietam. Black and white relationships are beautifully delineated without preaching. The human element is totally credible. There are no villains no heroes. These are humans caught in the web of history living out their lives under difficult circumstances. Superimposed are a complex crime story and a heartbreaking romance. The Battle scenes are the best I have ever read. I would place this book in a special category of classic historical story telling. A must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an exceptional novel. Can I give more than five stars? Can I give ten? May I please offer twenty! This book has held me for the last several days in suspense, fear, anger, humor and yes despite the subject, joy. I LOVE THIS BOOK and I do not say this lightly. I am not going to go in to the story synopsis, others will have done this far better than I. Suffice it to say that through David Fullers expert writing I lived with the characters, cried with them and suffered with them. This is how good a story teller he is. I laughed - albeit a little bit at the cluelessness of 'frightened' slave owners, as they were trapped in the dysfunctional world of their own making. But what a novel, what a story to tell. Cassius our hero, is a wonder, a very angry man who has the strength and personal will to talk himself out of throttling everyone who 'gets his goat' even though most justly deserve it . He is good/bad, smart/simple, angry... vindictive ...and finally - forgiving. Cassius reaches a place most of us never will, despite being a slave all his life. What an incredible character, and what a great telling of a difficult and terrible part of our nations history. Most highly, HIGHLY recommended. Thank you LibraryThing for the opportunity to view this first hand. I just adored it. Best time I've spent behind a page in a long time. '*****'
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Kaly More than 1 year ago
Books are a way to experience a life through another person's eyes. The viewpoint most Civil War novels offer is from a Johnny Reb, Billy Yank, or sometimes a rich plantation owner's daughter. David Fuller's novel Sweetsmoke, gives you a perspective way out of the norm. Through Sweetsmoke, the readers get to see the horrors and pains of the Civil War era not found on the battlefield. They get a chance to experience the daily life of a slave on a Virginian tobacco plantation. If that sounds a little dull, throw in the drama of an unsolved murder, forbidden romance, and runaway slaves, then you might have an idea of what Sweetsmoke could offer. The whole novel is set around a slave with a tortured soul and a chip on his shoulder, Cassius. The issue with the character development of Cassius is that Fuller casts a main character that is slightly unlikeable. Although his indigence and tenacity are endearing, I found myself fed up with the single-mindedness and vengefulness of Sweetsmoke's hero. It seemed that while Cassius was chasing the murder of his one true friend and savior, all other plot was tossed to the wayside. There simply wasn't enough plot development or suspense. All subplots seem rushed and left unsatisfactorily dangling. Romances were torn to pieces in one paragraph, while the prolonged hunt lingered on for chapters. One aspect of this novel that was extraordinary was the unconventional viewpoint discussed in the introduction. I found it so interesting to gain insight into the life of an enslaved carpenter on a thriving southern plantation. It made me look at previous Civil War novels I have read in an unorthodox manner. What if Prissy had narrated Gone With the Wind instead of the infamous Scarlet O'Hara? I especially enjoyed when Cassius was complaining about the hospitality of conductors on the underground railroad. It made him extremely uncomfortable to think about a white man having to empty out his chamber pot instead of visa versa. I was flabbergasted with the idea that a man doesn't deserve or want to live free because of the color of his skin. Sweetsmoke shows the readers that that idea is exactly what slavery preserved. An aspect that I didn't enjoy was the fact that so many characters were presented that I found them easily jumbled. It seemed like a character that was a mere bystander in a scene before came back to hold an important piece in the murder puzzle. Even though that usually makes for a shock effect in novels. It left me turning pages searching for exactly who this man was. It appeared to me that Fuller bit off a smidgen more than he could chew in the character department. Never create more characters than you can bring to life for the readers. On the whole, I think I enjoyed Sweetsmoke. I say, "I think" because I still am not sure if the stimulating point of view I gained from reading David Fuller's novel was worth slogging through 300 pages of sub-par plot and character development. Do pick up this book if you are a history buff or the intricacies of plantation life are captivating to you. I can't say don't bother to read it if you are a lover of suspense and action, because Sweetsmoke tries to offer that too, the climax just falls short of the climb. So when you pick up this book, be forewarned. Sweetsmoke will give you a new point of view necessary to this day and age, but not a soap opera.