Title: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen
Author: Sarah Bird
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)
Sarah Bird shines a light on the only known female Buffalo Soldier Cathay/Cathy Williams in her newest offering Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen.
“Here’s the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of a queen and my mama never let me forget it”
Though born into bondage on a “miserable tobacco farm” in Little Dixie, Missouri, Cathy Williams was never allowed to consider herself a slave. According to her mother, she was a captive destined by her noble warrior blood to escape the enemy. Her means of deliverance is Union general Philip Henry “Smash ’em Up” Sheridan, the outcast of West Point who takes the rawboned, prideful young woman into service. At war’s end, having tasted freedom, Cathy refuses to return to servitude and makes the monumental decision to disguise herself as a man and join the Army’s legendary Buffalo Soldiers.
Alone now in the ultimate man’s world, Cathy must fight not only for her survival and freedom, but she also vows to never give up on finding her mother, her little sister, and the love of the only man strong enough to win her heart. Inspired by the stunning, true story of Private Williams, this American heroine comes to vivid life in a sweeping and magnificent tale about one woman’s fight for freedom, respect and independence.
I admit, aside from having to memorize and perform Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in junior year English class (for which I got an A), I know almost nothing about the American Civil War. It’s always been a point of interest though, so when I got an email asking if I’d want to read an advanced copy of a book set at the tail-end of the civil war featuring a woman, a freed slave, who disguised herself as a man to join the army, I immediately said yes.
And I’m totally giving myself a good job pat on my shoulder for making that decision.
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is an engaging novel, vividly re-imagining historical figures and events. I totally fell in love with this story. It has everything I could ever ask for – captivating writing, interesting and nuanced supporting characters, action, and romance.
But, as important as those elements are, where Sarah Bird really excelled is at writing her main character.
From the get-go, I was compelled by Cathy Williams’ character. She’s strong and feisty and proud. Having been raised by strong, proud women – her mother and grandmother – Cathy’s will remain unbroken even through years of bondage and servitude. She’s still sarcastically witty, gutsy, and resilient, and I admired her more for it. The things she has gone through, I can only imagine just how hard it had been for her, but still, she pushes and comes through in the end.
As is the case with historical fiction, this book is a mix of researched facts and the authors creative leeway. Sometimes a book may be bogged down by these creative add-ons, but Bird managed to balance it, taking what bits of history there is about Cathy Williams and weaving it into a story of her own making while tackling racial issues that are still very much relevant today.
This was an almost flawless book for me. What kept it from getting a five-star rating is its slow pacing down the middle parts and the nonmention of Lincoln’s assassination (whereas Andrew Jackson was brought up).
Overall, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a great, important read. Whether you’re a historical fiction lover or not, I believe this is one book you’ll enjoy and treasure. I definitely recommend this book.
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To celebrate the release of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, I am, with the help of St. Martin’s Press, giving away a copy of this amazing book. Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the link below. This is open to everyone. (Yes, even you wonderful international readers! Yes, of course, you!) The giveaway runs until the end of September 11. I’ll be picking a winner on September 12.