Lightly based on the true story of a freed female slave who posed as a man, joined the army, and served with the Buffalo Soldiers, this rollicking epic marches fearlessly from the Civil War South to the sunburned edge of the Western frontier.
"My real life, the one I was meant to have, did not start until an August night in 1864, three years into the war, when I watched the only world I'd ever known burn to the ground and met the man who was to be my deliverance and my damnation, the Yankee general Philip Henry Sheridan." In her 10th novel, Bird (Above the East China Sea, 2014, etc.) delivers a high-energy page-turner that combines vividly re-created historical figures and events with a wild mustang of a plot and an embattled secret love, the last of which fans will recognize as a specialty of this author. Very much like Onion in The Good Lord Bird, Cathy Williams successfully poses as a man to find her way out of the particular hell reserved for young black girls of this period. In fact, when we meet her, she has already gotten away with a diabolical plot to kill her owner as punishment for "interfering" with her little sister and has taken to wearing britches. When Sheridan's troops arrive to pillage whatever food and supplies are left on the plantation, they requisition Cathy as well, thinking she's a young man and just the right person to help their cook. Torn from her mother and sister, she is tossed in the back of a wagon to ride up to camp. In it she finds a mortally wounded black Yankee soldier with whom she falls hopelessly in love just before he expires and is tossed over the side. This author has no trouble keeping a crazy romance with a dead person going great guns while exploring the very real historical ironies of black soldiers sent to subdue Native American tribes. Meanwhile, the travails of this woman-pretending-to-be-a-man echo across the centuries.
Rapturously imagined and shamelessly entertaining.