At first glance this Houghton Mifflin Prize Novel seems to travel the well worn sweet persimmon trail of Civil War novels--sparsely faceted characters bolstered by research into the vagaries of General Sherman's bristling and ragtag hordes. However, it is perhaps just because of the shades of the old Scarlet sagas, that this book achieves its peculiar poignancy, for the gallant South is reconstructed here through the living of Vyry, a young Negro woman, born a slave, natural, unclaimed child of the ""Marster"". Christmas at the Big House is dawn to nightime toil in a steaming kitchen; Young Marster Going Off to War anticipates the painful and wonderful idea of a rumor called Freedom; Sherman's terrible ride means the ""Year of Jubillo,"" and the Dispersion means a beginning rather than an end. Vyry accepted as a child the bewildering cruelty of separations, torture at the hands of a high strung mistress with a child's natural dignity and sad innocence. As a young woman, mother of two and presumably widow of Randall Ware, a proud freeman, Vyry marries Innes and attempts to lead the hardworking, decorous life of a free woman after the war. But a flood and the KKK wipe out their struggling endeavors, until ironically, a hostile white community accepts the family because Vyry's services as a midwife are needed. Randall returns, and to Vyry's joy, takes their son to educate him for freedom. An affecting novel, carried handsomely by the subject.