NATCHEZ by Pamela Jekel


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 Another of the author's historical dynasty novels (Deepwater, 1994, etc.), again with spikelets of real events, bits of natural history, and die-cast characters. Jekel's latest features a plantation family in the title area from 17751885. A prologue highlights a 1729 French settler wed to a woman of the Natchez Indians who states the novel's theme: ``The land belongs to the woman.'' Founder of the dynasty is Josiah Fleming from Connecticuta man who'll lose not only his family of wife and three children on the way west, as well as his original land claim, but also his faith. Josiah eventually marries a calm, strong widow, becomes one of the more successful planters, and regains his faith in Providence. But the couple's daughter Anne is the mean, beautiful Scarlett of the family; she's married briefly to a riverboat gambler, who frankly didn't give a damn and split, leaving wife and pretty Arden. Later, Arden marries nice Martin (who's opposed to the threatened civil war), then loses (in the war) a son and a son-in-lawthe one married to her daughter Felicity. At the close, it's Felicity who is rescued from a flood, along with her pregnant daughter, brother, and son-in-law, by ``outsider'' John Duncanwith an implausible middle-aged romance ensuing. In what's predictably a saga of fire, flood, and casualty lists, the family's women are all of a wholesome piece (except for cruel Anne), and the slaves generally imbecilic. (Says old Portia, Arden's lifelong maid: ``What I need wid freedom? I gots fambly.'') Also roaming around river waters and nearby land are various fauna, like Daspy the armadillo, Ursus the bear, a fox, a snake, etc., mimicking the traumas of human brethren. A journeyman saga.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8217-5061-5
Page count: 482pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1995


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