No, not a saga of prostitution, but of a literal ""white slave"": Howe's historical novel is based on the true story of Peter McCutcheon, who was raised as a slave in Missouri even though both his parents were white. Born out of wedlock to Miss Nora and a visiting Scotch-Irishman, Peter is immediately given, unbeknownst to his mother, to a light-skinned slave woman--who is sent away to another farm to cover up the scandal. Nora is told her baby has died, and Peter for years doesn't know who his real mother is, even after he returns to the family farm and Nora befriends him. Despite the color of his skin, which prompts more cruelty than kindness from the slaveowners, Peter identifies totally with his fellow slaves and marries a beautiful black girl. And, after enduring misadventures in the wake of the Civil War, they and their children gain safety and freedom as homesteaders in Kansas. Howe's characterization throughout is weak, Roots-manquÃ‰ style--simple good folk too often juxtaposed with totally foul buddies. But the basic grabber is a strong one; and the grim, joyful daily hustle of a farm with a small holding of slaves (as opposed to the more familiar big-plantation setting) is convincingly done, making this a just-different-enough addition to the burgeoning shelves of slavery fiction.