Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen
by Bird, Sarah

In 1864 Missouri, newly freed slave Cathy Williams makes the difficult decision to fight in the Army disguised as a man with the Buffalo Soldiers.

SARAH BIRD's previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR's Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams' story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.

Many historical novels celebrate strong women whose accomplishments went unheralded in their time. Cathy Williams, the first black woman to serve in the U.S. Army, is a prime example. Bird's (Above the East China Sea, 2014) fictionalized version of her life begins in 1864, when Yankee general Philip Sheridan burns the Missouri plantation where she is enslaved and takes her as "contraband" to become his cook's assistant. Cathy is proud of her illustrious African heritage, and her witty voice and down-to-earth honesty enliven her lengthy tale. After Appomattox, declining a traditional feminine role, she dresses as a man and enlists as "William Cathay." Bird's meaty epic provides abundant, intimate details about Cathy's life as a Buffalo Soldier: her patrols on the western frontier; the racism of her unit's white commanding officer; and the harassment she endures from her fellow soldiers, who find her self-protective modesty unnatural. She's also secretly attracted to her fair-minded sergeant. "If you don't push, you never move ahead," she notes, determining never to be unfree again. An admiring novel about a groundbreaking, mentally tough woman. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

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. "[M]y 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 p eriod. 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. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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