When I found this book on the library ‘New Reads” shelf, it looked intriguing and since it was one of my favorite genres (historical fiction), I picked it up and brought it home. Although I haven’t had as much time lately in my schedule to devote to pleasure reading (something that I am going to change! now. : ), I read this book in just under three days.
Although I had not previously read “The Kitchen House”(the first book in this series), I found I was well able to follow the story line.
“Glory Over Everything” is very fast moving, as the reader is caught up in the events of Jamie Pyke Burton.
James Burton is a young teen, escaping events from his childhood. He relates his story from the time he arrives in Pennyslvania and is able to secure an apprenticeship with a silversmith, up to adulthood.
James is for all intents and purposes in shock and trying to recover from the knowledge of his past and his own grievous actions that resulted in his fleeing for his life. Henry, an escaped slave who never stops fearing his return to slavery, takes pity on the young James and saves his life, assisting him with food and encouraging him to find work. Now well established in business, James has inherited a house and servants but one day Henry shows up at the door with a dilemma.
Henry’s young son, Pan, has been caught and sold into slavery. Although James fears his true identity and heritage will be discovered, he takes up Henry’s plea to travel South and find and rescue Pan.
Because the subject matter is both historical and tragic (slavery is never ever going to be a pleasant subject to write about), there are depictions of brutality that will make the reader cringe, but the author does not dwell on overly descriptive scenes. I appreciate that this time period in America’s history would be difficult to write very sensitively about; being that the treatment of slaves was so often extreme and tragically, unrestrained, my sympathy lies with any author who attempts to write realistically and believably about this era.
It is unbelievable that such events did happen and that the condition of slavery existed for so long. Perhaps the author is challenging the reader to identify within their own personalities, whether they would attempt to be a ‘Henry’or ‘Robert’, or instead simply sit back and accept (or tolerate) another human being’s distresses.
The author does not try to sugar-coat this time period nor does she write excessively graphic. I do wish that James had not engaged in a romance with a married woman; the author seems to excuse Caroline’s flaws and choices by assigning her husband his own can of worms that lead to an impossibly broken marriage relationship. (That is true however for all of us; the imperfections of human nature often excuses our personal failings if we in turn can identify those of others close to us.)
“Glory Over Everything” is not a calm, relaxing read; it is full of drama and pathos. James Burton himself shows cowardice at times, perhaps illustrating the author’s purpose in revealing human nature at its worst. It is fast moving and entices the reader on, hoping against hope that there will be a happy ending for its characters.