A WOMAN CALLED MOSES: A Novel Based on the Life of Harriet Tubman by Marcy Heidish
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A WOMAN CALLED MOSES: A Novel Based on the Life of Harriet Tubman

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A raw-boned, wire-nerved tribute to a life-in-a-mission--that of Harriet Tubman, black heroine of the Underground Railroad, born a slave in Maryland. The narrative begins with Harriet's first knowledge of death--the stench of it--and real toss as her young sister, also a child, is taken away to be sold. The years of growing despair, humiliations and ultimately rage, culminate in the failure of her marriage, the cruel death of her beloved Aunt Juba and finally the sudden knowledge that she will become free. It is a terrible and wonderful first journey north--from her initial acquaintance with ""a friend trapped in a white face"" to arrival in Pennsylvania and freedom ("". . . there was such a glory over everything""). Religious visions point the way to her calling: ""The mission was clear. It was accepted."" The scrawny young woman from Maryland named Harriet Tubman becomes ""Moses""--as she leads and drives three hundred souls to freedom, as she lectures at abolitionist meetings, as she meets with John Brown, as she becomes a legend to both oppressors and victims. At the last there is an account of one group's journey under Harriet's leadership from Maryland to Canada (the Fugitive Slave Law was in effect) which epitomizes the terror, agonizing hardship and uncertainty of all the treks north, the severe test of both Moses and her people. By the use of a harsh, colloquial narrative which spits and flares up again like a banked flame (""Kill that man, Lord, kill what is evil in Your sight""), Heidish approaches the genius of all messiahs--the pain of knowing what is wrong and the implacable will to set it right. A powerful, single-minded testament.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1975
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin