Book Review: The Abolitionist’s Daughter

Union and Confederate soldiers, abolitionists and slaveholders: They are all found in the branches of our families’ trees.

As a child, I would sit at the knee of my Great-Uncle Roy, listening to stories about Taylor-Thomas kin who fought in the War Between the States. I heard tales of how families were torn apart because of differing ideologies and how my own family experienced this strife when two brothers chose different sides. Although both men survived the war, the battle continued for decades, and supposedly neither spoke to the other again.

As an adult, I have discovered similar stories in other branches. In the Watts-Stark line, Stark and Bailey ancestors defied their South Carolinian and Virginian parents, embraced abolition, manumitted or emancipated their own slaves, and moved away from these slave states to the border states of Missouri and Kentucky. Other family members in both my maternal and paternal lines were active abolitionists. Several were Quakers, whose faith condemn slavery as both ethically and religiously wrong, while others, both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, did their part to help slaves on their flights to freedom, providing food, shelter, and safe passage through their property. Because of these family members, I knew that not all white Southerners supported slavery.

That is why I wanted to read the novel, The Abolitionist’s Daughter, written by Diane C. McPhail. The book opens in Greensboro, Mississippi in the year 1859. A slave auction has been scheduled. A young woman by the name of Emily Matthews is begging her father to prevent the slave Nathan from being separated from his family. Her father, a judge, is a staunch abolitionist. Despite the law, Judge Matthews educates his slaves and wants to set them free, even though laws prohibit him from doing so. Restricted by Mississippi’s stringent slave laws, Judge Matthews does the only thing he can do legally. He purchases Nathan, Jessie, and their two children and brings them to live at his home.

Emily and longtime companion/mother-figure Ginny, another slave in her father’s home, help this family transition into their new lives. It soon becomes evident, that although enlightened, Emily is often unaware of the realities of their world. Ginny, however, sees life as it is; she knows that the “freedom” and education afforded to them by the Matthews’ family does not extend beyond that homestead. Ginny, although not the protagonist, proves to be the most “powerful” presence in the story. It is Ginny’s resilience and reason that helps Emily evolve and grow. So much so, that when the unthinkable happens, Emily is able to draw from her inner strength, confront painful truths, and right society’s wrongs in any way that she can.

An emotional, often uncomfortable story about friendship, survival, redemption, and infinite hope, The Abolitionist’s Daughter is a must-read for history lovers and women’s fiction readers alike.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from John Scognamiglio Books, Kensington Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Post navigation

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Abolitionist’s Daughter

  1. Pingback: Crunching the Numbers, 2020 | Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers

  2. Pingback: *Press it* Book Review: The Abolitionist’s Daughter #120 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

  3. I just read a good book with the same title, although written by Kathleen Maher.

    Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

The Chiddicks Family Tree

Every Family has a story to tell..........Welcome to mine

The Handwritten Past

Tips, Stories, and Advice from Professional Genealogists

writing my past

in which I document my genealogical research adventures and explore the people and events from my family's history…

Deeper Roots Genealogy

~ Discovering Your Family's Past To Shape Your Future ~

The Wanderlust Genealogist

Bringing Your Past into Your Present!

Delving into the past

Here you shall find, my writings, about my family research, and general research into murders, and other people's ancestry, where I dig deep, and find all kinds of information about my family, whether it is good or bad, and my life itself in general, there are some sad, informative, facts here, which I hope, will get you guys blogging, so what are you waiting for? Get reading!

A Pennsylvania Dutch Genealogy

the genealogy & family research site of Kris Hocker

The Family Letter Blog

Connecting Generations

Discovering Yesterday

Preserving the history of ordinary people

Barb's GeNealogy Life

Combining two of my favorite addictive pastimes - family history and writing.

Skeletons In The Closet

Writing and Genealogy by P.D.Blake

Ascending the Stairs

Because each step tells another story of our ancestors

Our Lineage

Researching Family History One Ancestor at a Time - © 2012-2021 - Wendy Malinowski. All Rights Reserved

Past Presence

A site for genealogists and family historians

Julie's Genealogy & History Hub

Blog of Brass Oak Genealogy

The Family Kalamazoo

A genealogical site devoted to the history of the DeKorn and Zuidweg families of Kalamazoo and the Mulder family of Caledonia

From Shepherds and Shoemakers

Sharing musings, insights, resources and strategies as I discover my family history.

Its good to be crazy Sometimes

A view from the inside of going through the minefield of the British benefit system if you are disabled and the ups and downs of coping with mental illness

WORD!

Words of wisdom, inspiration, feeling

Rants, Rambles, Revelations, Remembrances

Because the voice in my head won't stay silent...

Genealogy for Children

How to engage children in genealogy and family history

Brumley Family Branches

A Genealogy Blog

GenTraveling

Collecting stories from family historians who are climbing their family trees and planning trips to where their ancestors actually lived!

Kindred Stories

Everyone has a story

OurGreatAncestors

Where Distant Family Become Close

Jill's Garden

Garden of Life

Chips Off the Old Block

A blog devoted to genealogical wanderings - dedicated to family near and far, through distance and time

Applegate Genealogy

Helping others discover their roots

Gary A Wilson Stories

10 Minute Adventures, Fiction and Coffee Breaks

Shaking The Branches

Sharing Stories From My Family Tree

Decoding the Family Tree

solving family history one branch at a time.

Bespoke Genealogy

UK and Ireland: Genealogy, History and Travel

The Letters

Louise Mabey

From Ballachulish to South Mississippi

Mississippi family history letters

Writer Within

The Efforts of a Writer Trying to Write

Myricopia

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

Aquila's Place

An Eccentric Mix of Literature and Opinions

The Women Who Made Me

Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

F Yeah History

History...but better

Amanda Bradburn

Author | Editor | Genealogist | Bookstagrammer

Winter-Maker

Actor, Writer, and Embroidery Artist seeking beauty and humour.

Today in History

"Tell me a fact, and I'll learn. Tell me a truth, and I'll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever." - Steve Sabol, NFL Films

Miner Descent

Tracing each branch back to their arrival in America

Empty Branches on the Family Tree

Genealogy Tips & Family History

%d bloggers like this: