A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
The story opens in Philadelphia in 1840. Grace, a young Scottish-born mother, paints portraits while pining for her husband to return from a long overseas trip. Daniel does come home but, simultaneously, a beloved friend and former slave arrives mysteriously and events are set in motion: Grace will travel to the deep south to search for her friend’s long-lost daughter.
As a result of her mission–on Virginia plantations, at a revival meeting, and in a Philadelphia courtroom–Grace will be surrounded by slaves and slave masters who repeatedly challenge her convictions. “This, Grace supposed, might be the nature of Original Sin: a sin committed by another, of which she’d had no knowledge and no hope of preventing. The stain of it besmirched her nonetheless.”
Along the way, readers are treated to an inside look at Chinese and Indian cultures, the first practical photographic process, silk worm cultivation and the havoc that nature and humans can cause each other. And a first class love story!
Original Sins: A Novel of Slavery and Freedom is that rare kind of novel that entertains, educates and enlightens.
Reviewed by Christine