I personally read this book and recommend that you read it too.
At the end of the Civil War, Cathy Williams, a freed slave who spent the last year of the war as a cook’s assistant for Union General Philip Sheridan, has only a few grim options for survival: become a laundress earning a pittance, return to the farm under slavelike conditions, or prostitution. Cathy makes a wildly non-traditional choice: she joins the newly-formed Buffalo Soldiers unit and lives disguised as a man for over two years. She does it for the adventure and because a man in the army makes thirteen dollars a month.
This is the plot line for Sarah Bird’s new novel, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. Bird balances breathtaking description, fast-paced action, and intriguing dialogue in a way that retains your attention through every last page. Some literary novels have bored me to the point where I felt I could skip twenty pages and not lose the thread. I never considered that tactic with Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen. I never wanted to.
If your book group is searching for its next winner, look no further. This story encompasses many issues worthy of discussion, not the least of which is the fate of freed slaves soon after the Civil War. The white officers who command the Buffalo Soldiers are despicable, with one notable exception, General Philip Sheridan. In one memorable scene, General George Armstrong Custer--the man with the golden locks--tries to convince Sheridan that “It is folly to believe that Negroes will ever make true fighting men.”
“It’s not a belief, General,” retorts Sheridan. “It is a proven fact.” Sheridan is no angel, but he judges soldiers based on how they perform as opposed to the color of their skin.
This plot makes for some interesting situations. As you can imagine, it is nearly impossible for a woman to disguise her gender in the midst of a platoon of men sleeping, bathing, and eating together under the same roof. This creates awesome tension in the novel. Every time I thought Cathy would be outed, Sarah Bird wrote another clever way to get her out of the jam.
There is a captivating romantic element to the novel as well, for Cathy Williams falls in love with her sergeant, Levi Allbright, who in turn considers William Cathay (Cathy’s nom de guerre) to be a lowly sodomite. And that’s just one small element of this wild historical fiction novel. I encourage you to buy it now and jump right in.
Sarah Bird is the author of ten novels and has been awarded numerous literary honors including being voted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.
Check out Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen on Amazon.
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I believe in the Power of Story. When you read a book as good as Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, you are transported to another place and time. You experience the hopes, struggles, successes, failures, and emotions of the characters. This makes you a better person.