MINNIE'S SACRIFICE; SOWING AND REAPING; TRIAL AND TRIUMPH by Frances E.W. Harper

MINNIE'S SACRIFICE; SOWING AND REAPING; TRIAL AND TRIUMPH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Through her highly moral and socially responsible characters, a 19th-century African-American writer presents a broad, lively range of political and personal views about being treated as America's second-class citizens. These three novels, originally serialized in the mid-to-late-1800s in Christian Recorder (the journal of the African Methodist Episcopal Church), were recently rediscovered by editor Foster (Literature/Univ. of California, San Diego) while doing research on Harper. The eponymous heroine of Minnie's Sacrifice is a young woman of mixed race spirited away from the South and raised in the North by a gentle, loving Quaker couple. Her true racial heritage is kept from her until one day her escaped slave mother surprises her on the street. Minnie marries Louis, who has also been ignorant of his mixed race parentage; after the war they bravely live in the South to work for the personal and economic uplifting and empowerment of their race -- until tragedy strikes. Sowing and Reaping is a paean to the virtues of avoiding the decadence of drink; it uses contrasting pairs of friends -- frivolous Jeanette and Charles, steady Belle and Paul -- to tell a story of temperance and self-destruction. In Trial and Triumph, Annette Harcourt moves through a lonely childhood and awkward adolescence to become a beloved teacher and poet in her community, finding love only after years of hard work and sacrifice. Foster has ably edited and introduced the novels, putting in context melodramatic plots and highly stylized language that may seem dated or off-putting to some readers. An important addition to 19th-century American literature, addressing weighty questions of race, community, and citizenship that are still being posed today.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1994
Page count: 329pp
Publisher: "Beacon -- dist. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux"