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A former slave named Persimmon Wilson is accused of the murder of his ex-master Joseph Wilson and the kidnapping of Wilson’s wife. In the street below his cell, carpenters build his gallows. In the town there is gathering excitement over the upcoming execution for Persimmon Wilson is notorious. In The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock, not only is he a black man who killed a white man and degraded that man’s wife, but he is also the “black Indian” known as Twist Rope who rode, raided and terrorized Texas settlements and farms with the Comanche Indians.
In the last days of his life, this literate ex-slave and Comanche warrior requests paper and ink and begins to write a very different story about from the one that is told about him. He admits to participating in the 1970 raid on Drunken Bride and running his spear through the man known as Joseph Wilson. He admits to riding off with the woman known as Wilson’s wife, but disputes her identity, claiming instead that she is his own wife, a light-skinned former house slave named Chloe. This brilliantly written, action packed novel will haunt you from beginning to devastating end.

This riveting novel is my latest discovery of a literary gem. Action is abundant and the characters are vivid. The story works on many levels: historical, psychological, and socoioeconmic. There is also the thread of man's inhumanity to man. And ample attention paid to love, friendship, pluck, and determination.

The book brilliantly weaves the particular tale of two people, Persy and Chloe; who happen to live under circumstances that are difficult beyond the average person's imagination; but not beyond Nancy Peacock's.

This is a great read for those who enjoy realistic fiction, packed with historical accuracy about  slavery, sugar plantations, Native Americans, geography, and the Civil War era.

Nancy Peacock’s first novel, Without Water, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book.  Her second novel, Home Across the Road was followed with a memoir, A Broom of One’s Own: Housecleaning and Life  about her experiences supporting herself as a self-employed housecleaner while writing and publishing. She teaches writing in her studio in Orange County, North Carolina.
If you liked the HBO show "Deadwood," you will appreciate the same level of toughness and honesty of voice in The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson. Peacock effortlessly captures the different souls and perspectives of characters. She seamlessly eases readers through different moments, places and persons. The book made me think about what helps us go on with our lives in the face of those atrocious occurrences. It highlights the strength we find to keep searching for that joy in the wake of sadness.
“As always, Nancy's elegant prose and unforgettable characters work seamlessly to create a fictional world that resonates with truth.” -- Rebecca Hodge

Originally posted to The Book Bear on Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 04:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers.

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