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Song Yet Sung (2008)

– tekijä: James McBride

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
6542327,514 (3.93)75
In pre-Civil War Maryland a beautiful young runaway slave, Liz Spocott suffers a head wound and falls into a coma. When she awakens she can see the future which helps her and fellow slaves escape the slave-catchers.

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 23) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
It took me a while to get into this and throughout there were times when I was confused mainly due to the large part the geography of the story plays. Set before the Civil War on the ragged coast of Maryland, the story is peopled with oystermen, slave catchers, local sheriffs, and slaves. The rivers, bayous, lakes, bays provide the setting. McBride doesn't
use quotation marks and once again, it is difficult at times to follow.

However, once I figured out who was who, it became an interesting and engrossing story. Amber is a young black slave owned by a kind widow whose son, Jeff, is loved by Amber as well. Amber's sister, Mary and her son Wiley make up all the slaves on Ms Katherine's place. The story opens with a gruesome scene of trapped slaves being held by a vicious female slave catcher, Patty Cannon and her gang. Liz Spocott, a beautiful runaway slave is shackled to an old woman in the prison. Liz learns about the "Code" from this old woman but is unsure of its meaning - The Code is a highly guarded series of communication means for the slaves. Liz manages to escape and brings the knowledge of the Code with her. She also sees the future in strange dreams. ('the reader understand the future as it is now).

At times, violent, at times humorous, at times sad, the story unravels as Amber meets Liz and understands the meaning of love and how love can make a person sacrifice this own search for freedom.

There are some rather hard to believe characters in the story especially the Woolman who has grown up in the swamp area and is almost part animal. Patty Cannon, although based on a real person, is also somewhat of a stretch.

Basically, this story is about the secret means of communication between the slaves and the relationships between the slaves and particularly for Amber with his owner, Ms. Katherine. The "song yet sung" is a reference to the future in the dreams of Liz - often a clear reference to ML King. ( )
  maryreinert | Sep 19, 2020 |
Part fable, part fever dream, this is another devastating historical novel by the author of The Good Lord Bird. The setting is the waters and islands of Eastern Maryland, home to watermen and small farm slaveholders. An enslaved girl, Liz, escapes from a plantation owner's bed and arouses a number of recaptured men and women to free themselves from the attic of the evil slave trader Patty Cannon, surely one of the most fearsome female villains ever put to paper. Liz, is known as The Dreamer, after she is shot during her flight. She has visions from the future, including one of Martin Luther King's Dream Speech, but she sees none for herself. In her attempt to find a peaceful place to die, she draws the sympathy of a oysterman's widow, her slaves, an incredibly tall silent free man of color called Woolman, and some other local freedmen who work with Harriet Tubman, using an elaborate Code to help escapees get North. But North means nothing to The Dreamer, who knows she cannot be freed from her visions. This story will be memorably meaningful to anyone who cherishes resistance to evil. ( )
  froxgirl | Feb 3, 2018 |
5 ***** and a ❤

McBride is best known for his memoir The Color of Water. Here he turns his talents to an historical novel based on the true story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad that brought so many slaves to freedom in the North.

Liz Spocott, a house slave and mistress to her master, is struck on the head and afterwards can see the future in her dreams. The book opens with Liz in captivity in the attic of a tavern, run by the notorious Patty Cannon and her band of slave stealers (they capture slaves they find alone, hold them until a broker comes to town, ship them south and sell them). She is chained to an elderly “woman without a name,” who recognizes Liz’s gift and tries to impart to Liz the secret code of slaves on the freedom train. The lesson is incredibly brief, and Liz is badly wounded (she’s been shot in the head, though the musket ball hasn’t penetrated her skull) and half delirious. But still she remembers just enough so that when the opportunity presents itself Liz manages to get free (and also free the 13 other slaves in the attic with her).

Of course this means that Patty and her gang will stop at nothing to find Liz. As if that weren’t enough, her master has also hired a well-known slave catcher, The Gimp, to bring Liz back to him. The other slaves are afraid of her because of her perceived powers. The rumor mill is alive with stories about The Dreamer and her magic. So Liz is all alone, ill, and barely knows a few key parts of the code.

The entire novel takes place in the swamps, marshes, inlets, and woods of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shore area (Dorchester County to be exact) in about 10 days’ time. It’s remote and unforgiving. But Liz finds help … first from The Woolman (a former slave who has been raised in the backwoods and swamps) and then from Amber (the slave of Missus Kathleen Sullivan, whose husband, along with Amber’s brother died oystering six months previously).

I thought it was a compelling read, and I learned much about the Underground Railroad and life in pre-Civil War Maryland. I was immediately drawn into the story and stayed up way too late trying to finish it.

When I originally read the book in April 2010, I rated this 4.5 stars because I was not sure it would appeal to everyone. But the more I thought about this book, and the more I talked about this book with other readers, the more I came to realize that I was unfairly down-grading the book. It is a FIVE-STAR book without question.

UPDATE Jan 2011 – I listened to the audio book, narrated by Leslie Uggams. She does a fine job, but there’s something about her voice that just isn’t quite right. I think her pitch is too high; a man’s voice might have been better. ( )
2 ääni BookConcierge | May 27, 2016 |
I really love this book! It's one of those books I would read again. I realize that part of it was fiction but to think that there was also truth in this story is facinating to me. ( )
1 ääni JerseyGirl21 | Jan 24, 2016 |
McBride creates a marvelous sense of people, time and place in this historical novel about an escaped slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Liz Spocott in March 1850 is the captive of a notorious gang of slave stealers led by the cruel Patty Cannon. Liz exudes an aura of beauty that beguiles the men around her. She has suffered a head injury which has given her spells of mysticism; her visions foretell the future of African-Americans in the 20th century, visions that are not optimistic about how things will turn out.

Liz has managed to escape Patty by killing one of Cannon’s men who was attempting to rape her. She flees to the waterlogged landscape of the Eastern Shore, aided by a free Negro who hides her in a remote area. Cannon, a vicious and murderous character, is determined to recapture her. Also on the hunt for Liz is Denwood who has been employed by Liz’s master to bring her back to his estate. As Liz hides deep in the swamps she encounters a wild black man – the Woolman – who has lived in the forest for years, the subject of tales about his strength and cunning. The man has a son who Liz found injured and aided. Liz is hiding near the hard scrabble farm of Kathleen Sullivan. Sullivan is a recent widow; her husband Boyd drowned while fishing on the bay. Her eldest son, Jeff Boy, becomes aware of Liz and witnesses the Woolman spiriting her further into the wild country. He will play a role in Liz’s ultimate escape from the clutches of Patty.

The slave holders and slave catchers are aware that there is a “code” used by blacks to communicate about the paths to freedom. They are determined to find out who passes the code along. The free blacks who aid slaves to escape become aware of Liz and work to help her North to freedom.

Patty Cannon and Denwood are relentless in tracking Liz. They encounter each other and violence ensues. The details and color of the chase are well-paced and exciting.

Liz is in the end put on the road to freedom by the network of black freedom conspirators. While never explicitly stated, it is clear that Liz is a fictional version of Harriet Tubman. Tubman was from Dorchester, Maryland. She sustained a head injury (as did Liz) that left her prone to “visions”, premonitions of the future. Liz’s flight from bondage is similar to Tubman’s.

McBride skillfully imagines the time and place of Eastern Shore Maryland in the 1850’s. As in other of his novels, he imparts authentic voices to the characters. This novel cements McBride as one of my favorite authors.
2 ääni stevesmits | Dec 22, 2015 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 23) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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On a grey morning in March 1850, a colored slave named Liz Spocott dreamed of the future.
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia


In pre-Civil War Maryland a beautiful young runaway slave, Liz Spocott suffers a head wound and falls into a coma. When she awakens she can see the future which helps her and fellow slaves escape the slave-catchers.

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Keskiarvo: (3.93)
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