The Freedom of Jenny by Julie Burtinshaw

I know this should be a Sunday Interview, but since I already interviewed the author of ‘The Freedom of Jenny‘ (you can find the interview here) I thought I’d finally review her historical novel, today. I deeply regret not reading this book sooner, but unfortunately it got buried among a mountain of other TBR books. When I ran across it the other day, I knew I needed to read it right away and I’m glad I did.  🙂

Jenny was born into a life of slavery. Her father was a slave on a different farm and was only allowed to visit on the weekends. Jenny, her mom & siblings lived elsewhere because they were on loan to a neighbouring farm by her father’s owner. Jenny and her family suffered many hardships, but it was her father’s dream to be free, despite her mother’s reservations about leaving the relative safety of the farm.

Slave-breakers were always a threat, capturing African Americans they might find along the road, whether they’d been freed or not, and selling them or re-selling them to whomever they wanted. Jenny’s mom worried that, even though her husband’s owner sold him his freedom, that the slave-breakers would take them and sell them to someone not nearly as kind as their current owners.

I think the author did a marvelous job of representing the life and emotions of American slaves. Her characters felt real and I was able to rejoice with them and cry at their sorrow.  Since I love history, I was thrilled with all the details that made the time period come alive for me. It’s very obvious that she has done her research and described it in such an effortless way that the reader is swept away to the mid-eighteen hundreds.

I’ve always had great sympathy for those poor souls, who were subjected to slavery and bigotry, so I was drawn to Jenny’s story. At the back of the book, the author states that she was inspired to write her fictional tale based on the real life experiences of Sylvia Stark, a slave who was emancipated in Missouri and made the journey to Salt Spring Island in what is now the province of British Columbia. I was thrilled by the fact that Governor Douglas, Earl of Selkirk and head of the Hudson’s Bay Company, did the same thing for emancipated slaves that he did with the Scottish crofters – brought them to Canada and provided land for them.

I highly recommend ‘The Freedom of Jenny‘ to anyone who are interested in the plight of the people taken from their native homes, transported to American and treated like cattle. 🙂

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