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NIGHT WHEREVER WE GO by Tracey Rose Peyton


by Tracey Rose Peyton

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2023
ISBN: 978-0-06-324987-5
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

A searing debut novel that explores the inner lives of a community of enslaved women in Texas in the decade leading up to the Civil War.

Straining under the weight of mounting debts, plantation owners Charles and Lizzie Harlow—called "the Lucys" by the people they enslave because they were the “spawn of Lucifer”—are intent on “breeding” their slaves Junie, Patience, Lulu, Alice, Serah, and Nan. First, Zeke arrives, "trailing behind Mr. Lucy like a shadow," and the women are made to have sex with him. Then there are the half-starved and ashen Isaac and Monroe, to whom the Lucys “give” Patience and Serah as wives. Increasingly desperate, the women discreetly seek out the counsel of the cook Nan for elixirs that promise to weaken virility and cotton root, a natural remedy for getting “caught” with child. The men themselves must face the contempt of the women and the shame of being shuttled from plantation to plantation like little more than bulls or horses with the sole purpose of producing offspring, forbidden to think of the wives and children they had to leave behind. The glimmers of hope offered by true love, solidarity, and the distant promise of emancipation become both solace and weapons, powerful enough to make the women “reckless in thought and deed”—tempting them, at times, to take matters violently into their own hands. As the summer heat builds, slave insurrections are on the rise, and the Lucys become increasingly desperate themselves, coming closer and closer to discovering the women’s secrets. Peyton weaves through the minds and spirits of her large cast of characters with insight and ease. The novel moves deftly between the third person and a collective “we” narrative, revealing the women's intimate interconnectedness and the intersectional interplay of age, race, gender, religion, and social status in the struggle to survive amid the horrors of life on the plantation.

Alternately suspenseful and poetic, this novel marks the beginning of a promising career for Peyton.