Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This historical novel from the author of Voodoo Dreams focuses on abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the two women who shared his life: a free woman of color to whom he was married for 44 years and a German heiress. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Frederick Douglass's love life was nearly as tumultuous as his political career or so Rhodes (Voodoo Dreams; Magic City) posits in this vividly imagined recreation of the romantic triangle formed by the great abolitionist, his black wife and his white mistress. Anna Murray is Douglass's first love, a free Maryland woman of color who falls in love with the young slave and helps him escape the South. Douglass follows through by marrying Murray and moving her to New Bedford, Conn. Marital life begins blissfully enough, but soon Anna finds herself alone raising Douglass's children while he travels to promote the abolitionist cause. Douglass, meanwhile, meets his intellectual match in German beauty Ottilie Assing, and their relationship turns physical when they journey together to England. Anna learns of the affair shortly after their return, but once her temper cools she tolerates Assing's presence, even allowing Douglass to include her in the living arrangements when the family moves to Rochester. The narrative clips along as Rhodes introduces the various romantic angles, but as a character study the book has some noticeable flaws. The uneducated but feisty Anna emerges as a well-drawn, multifaceted character, and Assing is effectively portrayed as she tries to balance her love for Douglass with her desire to be known as something more than the obscure mistress of a powerful, charismatic figure. Douglass, however, remains a shadow figure, mostly because Rhodes never gets beneath the surface of his romantic personality and leaves out elements of his controversial political contributions that would have fleshed out the narrative. This is a solid, well-conceived novel, but by isolating Douglass's passion from his politics, Rhodes creates a book that is as incomplete in its own way as the historical treatments that ignore the personal life of the great orator. 6-city author tour. (Oct. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Rhodes offers a fictionalized account of the two women at the center of the life of legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Rhodes alternates between the perspectives of Anna, Douglass' wife of 44 years, an illiterate free woman who helped him escape to freedom, and Ottilie Assing, a German heiress who was Douglass' avid supporter, sometime secretary, and mistress for three decades. Anna is portrayed as a stolid, long-suffering, and simple woman who would like nothing more than to see her famous husband settle into ministry and help her raise their five children. Ottilie sees herself as Douglass' soul mate and remains in the relationship--even occasionally living with the Douglass family--despite the gossip and ostracism their relationship engenders in nineteenth-century Europe and America. Rhodes expertly portrays the tensions and passions in the lives of these women, each carving out a life with an extraordinary man and trying to maintain a sense of dignity in a shared relationship. --Vanessa Bush


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This historical novel from the author of Voodoo Dreams focuses on abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the two women who shared his life: a free woman of color to whom he was married for 44 years and a German heiress. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Frederick Douglass's love life was nearly as tumultuous as his political career or so Rhodes (Voodoo Dreams; Magic City) posits in this vividly imagined recreation of the romantic triangle formed by the great abolitionist, his black wife and his white mistress. Anna Murray is Douglass's first love, a free Maryland woman of color who falls in love with the young slave and helps him escape the South. Douglass follows through by marrying Murray and moving her to New Bedford, Conn. Marital life begins blissfully enough, but soon Anna finds herself alone raising Douglass's children while he travels to promote the abolitionist cause. Douglass, meanwhile, meets his intellectual match in German beauty Ottilie Assing, and their relationship turns physical when they journey together to England. Anna learns of the affair shortly after their return, but once her temper cools she tolerates Assing's presence, even allowing Douglass to include her in the living arrangements when the family moves to Rochester. The narrative clips along as Rhodes introduces the various romantic angles, but as a character study the book has some noticeable flaws. The uneducated but feisty Anna emerges as a well-drawn, multifaceted character, and Assing is effectively portrayed as she tries to balance her love for Douglass with her desire to be known as something more than the obscure mistress of a powerful, charismatic figure. Douglass, however, remains a shadow figure, mostly because Rhodes never gets beneath the surface of his romantic personality and leaves out elements of his controversial political contributions that would have fleshed out the narrative. This is a solid, well-conceived novel, but by isolating Douglass's passion from his politics, Rhodes creates a book that is as incomplete in its own way as the historical treatments that ignore the personal life of the great orator. 6-city author tour. (Oct. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Rhodes offers a fictionalized account of the two women at the center of the life of legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Rhodes alternates between the perspectives of Anna, Douglass' wife of 44 years, an illiterate free woman who helped him escape to freedom, and Ottilie Assing, a German heiress who was Douglass' avid supporter, sometime secretary, and mistress for three decades. Anna is portrayed as a stolid, long-suffering, and simple woman who would like nothing more than to see her famous husband settle into ministry and help her raise their five children. Ottilie sees herself as Douglass' soul mate and remains in the relationship--even occasionally living with the Douglass family--despite the gossip and ostracism their relationship engenders in nineteenth-century Europe and America. Rhodes expertly portrays the tensions and passions in the lives of these women, each carving out a life with an extraordinary man and trying to maintain a sense of dignity in a shared relationship. --Vanessa Bush