THE KENTUCKY TRACE by Harriette Simpson Arnow


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Again Miss Arnow is in the mountain country of Kentucky -- this time during the Revolution -- with a warm-hearted tale told with a dry assurance which retains the sentiment but avoids the sentimentality which could so easily accrue. Clustered in the woods are an odd assortment of persons, boil-offs from the turmoil of the War -- all in their way tough and wary as cats of the dangers around them. Among the incidental Americans: Leslie Collins, a surveyor, who lost the wife he was roped into marrying, and the son which wasn't his, to the fever; black slave Jethro, in and out of the war, who recouped Leslie's stock; the Cherokee Daniel, who mined saltpeter for gunpowder; the mercurial young Indian Little Brother, who had been cut off from his people; and Rachel, the black slave of the whining, abusive Mrs. Eversole. The latter had run off to join her scoundrely lover who sired the infant -- William David -- she hopes to destroy but Rachel is trying to save. But gradually all become involved in William David's fate. With Little Brother, dressed in his best -- a boar's head -- as godfather, Leslie baptizes William David, brings off a spurious pact with his mother, fabricates a lineage and a dire death, and leads a partial exodus from the camp -- with bright new plans for every member of the party. Miss Arnow's woods and faintly period speech are pleasing to the ear and eye and in Leslie she has perpetuated the earth-true sunny side of the mythic American hero.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1974
Publisher: Knopf