Thursday 2 February 2023

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer BLOG TOUR #RiverSingMeHome @eleanorbshearer @headlinepg @RandomTTours #BookReview


We whisper the names of the ones we love like the words of a song. That was the taste of freedom to us, those names on our lips.

Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy.

These are the names of her children. The five who survived, only to be sold to other plantations. The faces Rachel cannot forget.

It's 1834, and the law says her people are now free. But for Rachel freedom means finding her children, even if the truth is more than she can bear.

With fear snapping at her heels, Rachel keeps moving. From sunrise to sunset, through the cane fields of Barbados to the forests of British Guiana and on to Trinidad, to the dangerous river and the open sea.

Only once she knows their stories can she rest. Only then can she finally find home.

Inspired by the women who, in the aftermath of slavery, went in search of their lost children.

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer was published in hardback on 19 January 2023 by Headline. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour.

There are times when I read a book and I really wish that I didn't have to write a review. This is one of those times. It's not because I have nothing good to say, it is completely the opposite. This book moved me in so many ways, it is a thing of utter beauty, a story that will teach the reader and produce tears. Of that I have no doubt. I just wish I had the words to state just exactly how wonderful this novel is. 

It's a debut and the author lets the reader know, in her letter at the end, what inspired her to write it. That in itself is a touching and moving story.

Rachel is a slave on a plantation in Barbados when emancipation is declared. However, the plantation owners have other ideas, they are not about to let their slaves walk free. They insist that they must continue to work for years, this time as 'apprentices', not slaves. 

Rachel runs. She's a mother without any children and is determined that one day, she will be reunited with the five of her children that survived, and who were all sold to the white man.

And so begins an extraordinary journey for Rachel, taking in Barbados and other Caribbean islands, moving from place to place, often under cover, always in danger, but always determined.

The author's skill in describing the landscape and the utter fear that lives in Rachel's heart is breathtaking. However, despite that fear, despite knowing that she may die before she finds out where any of her children are now, her unbreakable bond and never-ending love for her offspring guides her. 

Rachel meets people during her journey who help her and who are kind to her. People who change the course of her journey, and people who will stay with her right to the end. She also encounters people who would kill with no thought, people who see only the colour of her skin and people who treat their livestock better than they would treat another human. 

The theme of the river, and how it can guide and even protect is so skilfully woven throughout the story, showing the power of water, not just to keep us alive, but to keep us safe. So so very clever. 

This is one of the most powerful, compassionate and compelling novels that I've read for many a year. The language is glorious, the characters are so skilfully created and the sense of place is intoxicating. 

It's January, and I know for sure, this is going to be in my Top Books of the Year list. Wonderful, the perfect read. Highly recommended. 

ELEANOR SHEARER is a mixed-race writer and the granddaughter of Windrush generation immigrants. 

She splits her time between London and Ramsgate so that she never has to go too long without seeing the sea. 

For her Master’s degree in Politics at the University of Oxford, Eleanor studied the legacy of slavery and the case for reparations, and her fieldwork in St. Lucia and Barbados helped inspire her first novel.

T: @eleanorbshearer #RiverSingMeHome

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