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Song Yet Sung (2008)

av James McBride

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7592529,735 (3.93)76
Fiction. Literature. HTML:March, 1850. In the tense days before the Civil War, a slave breakout in the labyrinthine swamps of Maryland's eastern shore sets loose a riveting drama of violence, hope, and redemption among slave catchers, plantation owners, watermen, runaway slaves, and free blacks. Liz Spocott, a beautiful runaway slave, shot and near death, is wracked by disturbing visions of the future as she lies shackled to an old woman in the prison attic of the notorious female slave-trader Patty Cannon and her gang. The ancient nameless woman reveals "the Code," a fiercely guarded cryptic means of communication for slaves on the run. Armed with an array of words that she does not understand, Liz escapes once again, but now must evade an enraged Patty Cannon and a new nemesis, Denwood Long??a troubled slave catcher and waterman, who is coaxed out of retirement to break the Code. As she makes her desperate run, Liz is thrust upon the denizens of the swampy peninsula: the handsome slave Amber, the terrifyingly wild Woolman, the widowed Kathleen Sullivan. Meanwhile Liz's extraordinary dreams of tomorrow create a freedom-seeking furor among the once complacent slave community. The mysterious disappearance of two children, one white and one black, seeds an explosive ending.
Filled with rich history??much of the story is drawn from historical events??and told in McBride's signature lyrical style, SONG YET SUNG brings into full view a world long misunderstood in American fiction. This is a story of tragic triumph, violent decisions, and unexpected kindness.
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This is my 4th book by James McBride and. all have been excellent. "Good Lord Bird" won the Pulitzer Prize and was an excellent TV series with Ethan Hawke. This book was an earlier novel and deals with slaves, slave owners, and slave catchers on the Maryland Eastern Shore in 1850. McBride's depiction of slavery in a border state was very educational because there it was not big plantations like in the Deep South but mainly family farms where the owner might have just 2or. 3 slaves. Because of the proximity to the north, there were lots of escaped slaves and this is the area where Harriet Tubman came from who was instrumental in helping escaped slaves on the "Under ground railroad". This story begins with Liz Spocott who escapes from a notorious slave catcher and stealer Patty Cannon(based on real person) along with 14 other slaves. We see her hardship and also that as a result of a head injury she has dreams the show the future. McBride with his great use of language and description of the watery Eastern Shore paints a. realistic picture slavery at the small local level. The story is complex and involves many characters both black and white. McBride creates complex characters and give some level of humanity to both heroes and villains. There was lot about a complex communication code. that the slaves had and constant descriptions of the landscape which slowed the book down a bit. If you wish to learn more about slavery as it probably existed then I strongly recommend this book. If you have never read McBride then I would start with "Good Lord Bird" which deals with John Brown the abolitionist. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Jul 13, 2023 |
I had a hard time falling into this book. I enjoyed the characters and the main storyline. I found it hard to blend Lizs dreams and visions of the future into the characters and plot. I understood what the purpose of these foresight were but the way they were written really threw off the story for me. ( )
  Tara1117 | Apr 29, 2022 |
It took me a while to get into this and throughout there were times when I was confused mainly due to the large part the geography of the story plays. Set before the Civil War on the ragged coast of Maryland, the story is peopled with oystermen, slave catchers, local sheriffs, and slaves. The rivers, bayous, lakes, bays provide the setting. McBride doesn't
use quotation marks and once again, it is difficult at times to follow.

However, once I figured out who was who, it became an interesting and engrossing story. Amber is a young black slave owned by a kind widow whose son, Jeff, is loved by Amber as well. Amber's sister, Mary and her son Wiley make up all the slaves on Ms Katherine's place. The story opens with a gruesome scene of trapped slaves being held by a vicious female slave catcher, Patty Cannon and her gang. Liz Spocott, a beautiful runaway slave is shackled to an old woman in the prison. Liz learns about the "Code" from this old woman but is unsure of its meaning - The Code is a highly guarded series of communication means for the slaves. Liz manages to escape and brings the knowledge of the Code with her. She also sees the future in strange dreams. ('the reader understand the future as it is now).

At times, violent, at times humorous, at times sad, the story unravels as Amber meets Liz and understands the meaning of love and how love can make a person sacrifice this own search for freedom.

There are some rather hard to believe characters in the story especially the Woolman who has grown up in the swamp area and is almost part animal. Patty Cannon, although based on a real person, is also somewhat of a stretch.

Basically, this story is about the secret means of communication between the slaves and the relationships between the slaves and particularly for Amber with his owner, Ms. Katherine. The "song yet sung" is a reference to the future in the dreams of Liz - often a clear reference to ML King. ( )
  maryreinert | Sep 19, 2020 |
Part fable, part fever dream, this is another devastating historical novel by the author of The Good Lord Bird. The setting is the waters and islands of Eastern Maryland, home to watermen and small farm slaveholders. An enslaved girl, Liz, escapes from a plantation owner's bed and arouses a number of recaptured men and women to free themselves from the attic of the evil slave trader Patty Cannon, surely one of the most fearsome female villains ever put to paper. Liz, is known as The Dreamer, after she is shot during her flight. She has visions from the future, including one of Martin Luther King's Dream Speech, but she sees none for herself. In her attempt to find a peaceful place to die, she draws the sympathy of a oysterman's widow, her slaves, an incredibly tall silent free man of color called Woolman, and some other local freedmen who work with Harriet Tubman, using an elaborate Code to help escapees get North. But North means nothing to The Dreamer, who knows she cannot be freed from her visions. This story will be memorably meaningful to anyone who cherishes resistance to evil. ( )
  froxgirl | Feb 3, 2018 |
5 ***** and a ❤

McBride is best known for his memoir The Color of Water. Here he turns his talents to an historical novel based on the true story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad that brought so many slaves to freedom in the North.

Liz Spocott, a house slave and mistress to her master, is struck on the head and afterwards can see the future in her dreams. The book opens with Liz in captivity in the attic of a tavern, run by the notorious Patty Cannon and her band of slave stealers (they capture slaves they find alone, hold them until a broker comes to town, ship them south and sell them). She is chained to an elderly “woman without a name,” who recognizes Liz’s gift and tries to impart to Liz the secret code of slaves on the freedom train. The lesson is incredibly brief, and Liz is badly wounded (she’s been shot in the head, though the musket ball hasn’t penetrated her skull) and half delirious. But still she remembers just enough so that when the opportunity presents itself Liz manages to get free (and also free the 13 other slaves in the attic with her).

Of course this means that Patty and her gang will stop at nothing to find Liz. As if that weren’t enough, her master has also hired a well-known slave catcher, The Gimp, to bring Liz back to him. The other slaves are afraid of her because of her perceived powers. The rumor mill is alive with stories about The Dreamer and her magic. So Liz is all alone, ill, and barely knows a few key parts of the code.

The entire novel takes place in the swamps, marshes, inlets, and woods of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shore area (Dorchester County to be exact) in about 10 days’ time. It’s remote and unforgiving. But Liz finds help … first from The Woolman (a former slave who has been raised in the backwoods and swamps) and then from Amber (the slave of Missus Kathleen Sullivan, whose husband, along with Amber’s brother died oystering six months previously).

I thought it was a compelling read, and I learned much about the Underground Railroad and life in pre-Civil War Maryland. I was immediately drawn into the story and stayed up way too late trying to finish it.

When I originally read the book in April 2010, I rated this 4.5 stars because I was not sure it would appeal to everyone. But the more I thought about this book, and the more I talked about this book with other readers, the more I came to realize that I was unfairly down-grading the book. It is a FIVE-STAR book without question.

UPDATE Jan 2011 – I listened to the audio book, narrated by Leslie Uggams. She does a fine job, but there’s something about her voice that just isn’t quite right. I think her pitch is too high; a man’s voice might have been better. ( )
2 rösta BookConcierge | May 27, 2016 |
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To Stephanie, my dreamer
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On a grey morning in March 1850, a colored slave named Liz Spocott dreamed of the future.
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:March, 1850. In the tense days before the Civil War, a slave breakout in the labyrinthine swamps of Maryland's eastern shore sets loose a riveting drama of violence, hope, and redemption among slave catchers, plantation owners, watermen, runaway slaves, and free blacks. Liz Spocott, a beautiful runaway slave, shot and near death, is wracked by disturbing visions of the future as she lies shackled to an old woman in the prison attic of the notorious female slave-trader Patty Cannon and her gang. The ancient nameless woman reveals "the Code," a fiercely guarded cryptic means of communication for slaves on the run. Armed with an array of words that she does not understand, Liz escapes once again, but now must evade an enraged Patty Cannon and a new nemesis, Denwood Long??a troubled slave catcher and waterman, who is coaxed out of retirement to break the Code. As she makes her desperate run, Liz is thrust upon the denizens of the swampy peninsula: the handsome slave Amber, the terrifyingly wild Woolman, the widowed Kathleen Sullivan. Meanwhile Liz's extraordinary dreams of tomorrow create a freedom-seeking furor among the once complacent slave community. The mysterious disappearance of two children, one white and one black, seeds an explosive ending.
Filled with rich history??much of the story is drawn from historical events??and told in McBride's signature lyrical style, SONG YET SUNG brings into full view a world long misunderstood in American fiction. This is a story of tragic triumph, violent decisions, and unexpected kindness.
From the Compact Disc edit

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