Kathleen Grissom's sophomore novel, a spin off of her debut, THE KITCHEN HOUSE, opens with silversmith Jamie Pyke in 1830s Philadelphia.
Now "passing" and living as a white man named James Burton, the first half of GLORY OVER EVERYTHING is dedicated to Jamie's travails following his near-deadly fleeing of the South at just thirteen years old.
We also meet and follow a host of new characters, including Jamie's love interest, Caroline--a woman who fills his adult life with complication; the Burtons--a loving couple who gives Jamie much more than just a new name; and Henry and Pan--a father/son duo that puts Jamie's deepest loyalties to the test.
The story also features the sad life and times of Sukey, a slave sold from Jamie's intricate past in the previous novel, who happens to be in the right place at the right time to enable a dramatic and tricky reunion in this one.
While the idea of following Jamie as he "passes" is a marvelous one, some readers may find the intrigue somewhat diluted by an ill-timed flashback. Once the narrative stops and flashes back to thirteen-year-old Jamie and his elevation in Philadelphia society, the reader already has so much information about his future that tension and conflict are essentially neutralized. As a result, the first half of the story may feel somewhat tedious and poorly paced where it could've been engaging and suspenseful if the reader knew far less about how things turn out for Jamie by 1830. The plot also relies quite heavily on coincidence to heighten its tension, which delicately undermines the plausibility of things to come.
Despite these observations, fans of THE KITCHEN HOUSE should definitely experience GLORY OVER EVERYTHING--for its wonderfully researched historical ambiance, the notable insight to the grossly inhuman slave trade, the ravages of plantation life, the courage of the Underground Railroad and for the sheer endurance of the human spirit!
WOW!!! Jamie, Sukey, Belle, Henry, the Tall Oakes plantation - they are all revisited and brought back to life.
This book centers on Jamie Pyke - now known as James Burton - who is passing himself off as a white man. He is adopted by a loving family that once gone leaves him not only a grand house, with servants, but a profitable silver shop, the same one that he apprenticed in. As a favor to Henry, James takes in his son Pan as kitchen help. Upon finding his aristocrat girlfriend pregnant, Jamie's life changes and before he can reveal to Catherine his true identity Pan, trying to do a good deed at the docks, manages to get stolen by slave traders. Henry and Jamie go on the hunt for Pan. James ends up back in the Tall Oakes area where he knows he is still being sought as a runaway. With help from Sukey and a neighboring plantation owner James and Pan are swiftly moved into the Underground Railroad.
This book brought back so much of the The Kitchen House, a book I dearly loved. The writing is superb, the research for the factual basis of this book is flawless. Once open and in your hands you cannot stop reading. Character development is very good, plot design believable.
As told to me by the author, Jamie would not stop talking to her. I am so thankful. I loved every word of this book.
And now with the introduction of baby Catherine and baby Kit...the story can continue....
Book received from author - thank you very much Kathleen.
I was extremely disappointed and bored with this book. I did finish it, but what a snoozer. And the coincidence of all the slaves from the book The Kitchen House, is sadly too convenient.
This book dragged for more than the first 100 or 200 pages. It picked up near the end, and ta da, it was all wrapped up. You really don't see the perils of slavery or the underground railroad. It was watered down and dull.