Child of the South
This sequel to The Road from Chapel Hill continues the saga of Eugenia Mae Spotswood and Tom Maryson now that the Civil War has ended. Eugenia returns to Wilmington to try to discover who her mother really was: her father’s deceased wife or his slave. Ex-slave Tom re-encounters his old nemesis, Clyde Bricket, and through a twist of fate becomes Clyde’s business partner and co-owner of Clyde’s family farm.
The novel begins in the chaotic days following the end of fighting when Reconstruction is taking control of the South and freed slaves are experiencing the first euphoric days of freedom and the beginnings of political power. Eugenia lands in the thick of this, living with wealthy pre-Civil War white friends all the while working as a nurse among poverty-stricken freedmen. One of the novel’s characters, an actual historical figure of the time and a powerful exponent of Negro rights, Abraham Galloway, befriends Eugenia. He and his family help her to discover her parentage and her place in the new South.
Filled with considerable insight into the psyche of both white and black southerners of the time and into why the South evolved as it did, this novel lacks the driving suspense of its predecessor. The relationships among the main characters reach surprising conclusions, but the coincidences which bring them all together stretch credulity. Nevertheless, it’s a worthy, thoughtful read for anyone interested in race relations and Southern history.