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When the Drum Major Died [Kindle Edition]

Anjuelle Floyd
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 28th, 1967.
America has taken a respite from the heated protests and firebombing that engulfed the nation the previous summer.
Martin Luther King, Jr. has begun laying out plans for his Poor People’s Campaign.
Florina Gavin Austin, two days married, has moved across state to Poinsettia, North Carolina where she will begin a new life as Mrs. Redmond Austin.
On approach to the house where she and her husband will live, Florina spies a woman sitting on the steps and smoking a cigarette.
“You must be Redmond’s new wife,” the woman says. “All of Poinsettia’s been talking about you.” Failing to introduce herself, the woman stands, flicks cigarette buts behind the shrubbery, and proceeds into what will become Florina’s new home.
The woman’s uncanny knowledge of the space that Florina will inhabit with her new husband leaves Florina feeling more than ill at ease.
Following the benediction at Sunday services, Florina witnesses the woman she will come to know as Agnes, caress Redmond’s cheek. The look in Redmond’s eyes betrays longing.
Agnes’ words to Redmond in a letter confirm Florina’s fears, “I will always love you.”
They also force Florina to confront her own secrets--her first marriage, one that neither her parents nor Redmond know of.
Florina and Agnes are neighbors. Their houses stand next to each other. Their husbands, Negro doctors in Poinsettia, hold prominent positions in the social and political life of their community. As their wives, Florina and Agnes occupy positions of similar regard.
When Agnes flees to Memphis and joins the Sanitation Workers Protests, all are aghast, none more than Florina. Yet she holds empathy for Agnes, respects Agnes’ strength in standing up for what she and all Negroes across America believe and desire: Civil Rights for their people in America.
As they move towards the fateful day, April 4th, 1968, when a great statesman of America, perhaps the greatest ever, will be killed, Florina learns that marriage exposes the vulnerabilities of all who pledge their trough and body. It casts an even greater shadows upon the ones who vow love unto death, and do not deliver what they have promised.
When the Drum Major Died shows what happens when we resist change in favor of worn out tradition, but also what can and does occur when we open our hearts and embrace the words, “ ... be first in love ... be first in generosity ... He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. ... ”

Product Details

  • File Size: 868 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1938070011
  • Publisher: NOJ Publications (January 25, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I35FT6Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,710 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent February 27, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
"When the Drum Major Died" by Anjuelle Floyd is a beautiful and moving story set towards the end of the 1960s in the Southern US.
Our heroine Florina is recovering from the grief over her late (and secret) husband, who died in Vietnam. She gives up her studies, remarries and moves to Poinsettia, North Carolina, where she will be confronted with the fact that you cannot run from your past or your feelings.
The book is a wonderful and touching character study and a poignant historical portrayal of those days.
It still fascinates me that Martin Luther King and his movement happened as late as that; in years still so close to our own times. Spread throughout the book are several small and bigger interesting facts and data about the times. Floyd has captured the spirit of the 1960s in the Southern US and shows them through greatly chosen characters. The family and marriage dynamics and the relations to the neighbours are further strong points in this great novel.
Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, Hate and Secrets February 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Anjuelle Floyd's new novel, When the Drum Major Died, is a compelling story about the tumultuous time in the south during the 1960s. She portrays a newlywed couple and the secrets from the past that lay hidden. Florina has not told her new husband about a former husband who was killed in Vietnam and he has not told her about an affair with the woman who lives next door. With their new marriage falling apart, Florina tries to understand what is going on. She finds it hard to believe that Redmond loves her as he proclaims. Anjuelle unfolds the story in the midst of segregation and marches. The "Drum Major" of the book is Dr. Martin Luther King. All the different threads are drawn together and woven into a tapestry with snags and holes. She captures the essence of the story with a wide scope of emotions, some that threaten to destroy the characters in the turbulence that seeps into the small town where Florina's husband is a surgeon but he cannot admit patients to the local hospital because of the color of his skin. Anjuelle keeps the tension up right to the end. It is a great book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical-Romantic, Emotional Delight July 31, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Florina was previously and secretly married to a Vietnam soldier who died on the battlefield in 1966. She then remarried Redmond, a black surgeon, whom her parents approved of this union. However, it greatly bothered Florina for not telling anyone except her first husband's mother Melinda and unsure to share this previous marriage with her current husband Redmond. She meets an eccentric woman named Agnes once moving to Redmond's grandparents’ home. Shortly later, as the reader, I was able to see secrets between the married couple where they both had previous engagements such as Florina married to Ennis and Redmond dated Agnes. Yet I am waiting to see how the couple will either boldly tell one another about their past or previous relationships openly or keep each other guessing.

The only setback that I had with this novel (and previous work I've read by this author) is the redundancy of an important incident or episode of the character's inward secret kept being stated or re-said throughout the book. However Anjuelle Floyd taps into the inflection of the main character, intricately shares the psychological transitions of the character, and dysfunctional aspects of relationships when facing racism, prejudices, skin color complexities or inferior complexes, and other injustices.

Floyd also gently touched on the importance of education, its values and goals as a surgeon during the Civil Rights movement, and benefits of being the only Black surgeon in a small town of Poinsetta. Moreover, Redmond being a prominent figure in his community and well-educated didn’t have to marry someone of the same or similar status as others would expect like Agnes. Is education the ticket to a better life?
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gracefully memorable. February 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
For many of us, people of color in particular, Viet Nam and the corresponding events of the American Civil Rights movement are a defining part of our personal history. For Florina Austin and the other characters of WHEN THE DRUM MAJOR DIED, these events set the tone for life in these United States.

A new marriage, a tarnished wedding, the secrets accommodated by longtime spouses lay the foundation for this ambitious story. Dealing with themes of racism, women’s rights, classism, and intraracial bigotry, Anjuelle Floyd still finds a way to tell a love story – albeit one bent by jealousy, infidelity, and lies – both personal and political.

WHEN THE DRUM MAJOR DIED is also the tale of love braced by a triangle that comes into existence when Florina marries Dr. Redmond Austin. Redmond is a man determined to be whole and he has found Florina to be the woman he would have and hold as his wife – after Agnes Elder, a woman of colorful passion and nearly colorless skin.

In the triangle of her love, Florina is left to reconcile the differences of her first husband, a man she never claimed before losing him to the war in Viet Nam and Redmond, her second husband, the man she fears losing to Agnes. With Agnes and the racial and social predilections of the sixties as galvanizing factors, Florina must learn to step and stand beyond her fears.

WHEN THE DRUM MAJOR DIED is no lazy flip-to-the-back-of-the-book tale. Though the story dances only intermittently on the world stage, the verifiable history is undeniable. The flash back to the old fashioned manners of the South in the sixties sets a tone that immediately requires the reader to respect the mores, decisions, and emotion of the story. Written with Ms. Floyd’s lyrical style, readers may not always agree with our heroine, but Florina Austin’s journey is one that readers with skin of any color will understand and walk with her.

* Review copy provided.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story.
When I started reading this book, the first thoughts which came into my mind were that, it’s amazing how ignorant one can be, about events which happened in your own lifetime. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Susan Keefe
1.0 out of 5 stars Promising premise, poor execution
When the Drum Major Died, by Anjuelle Floyd, is a story of love, lust, secrets, war, education, and Civil Rights. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nortina
2.0 out of 5 stars When the Drum Major Died
Dialogue slow and repetitive. Not very interesting characters. I would not recommend this book that tries to be historical .
Published 5 months ago by pam asadi
4.0 out of 5 stars A story that will stick with you!
A new marriage, hidden secrets and unrequited love makes for a fabulous tale! I recommend this story to drama fans.
Published 5 months ago by Paula Henderson
2.0 out of 5 stars A Real Train Wreck of a Book
I’m not sure what other reviewers saw in this book to give it 5 stars. I did enjoy the story line and the characters were interesting enough, but the entire book was so badly... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars So much love between 2 covers!
“The thick jungle, and the heat. It was too much. They had to cut their way through vines and over growth. No path had been laid out like usual. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Martha A. Cheves
5.0 out of 5 stars Floyd masterly achieves compelling narrative tension through a series...
Anjuelle Floyd's poignant and sophisticated novel, When the Drum Major Died is set in Poinsettia, N.C. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Norm Goldman
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable story !
When the Drum Major Died by Anjuelle Floyd

Set in 1967 North Carolina when Martin Luther King was planning his Poor People March, young Florina Gavin Austin is newly... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sheri A. Wilkinson
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More About the Author

Anjuelle Floyd is the author of "Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident", June 15, 2007, a collection of interconnected short stories, and two novels, "The House", October 15, 2012, and "Seasons in Purdah," September 9, 2012.

Anjuelle is a wife of thirty years, mother of three, abstract painter and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work.
A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, she has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California.
Anjuelle received a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has also received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers' Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops.

A student of Process Painting from 1998-2006, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004--2011 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.

Listen to Anjuelle's interviews of various authors on Book Talk, Creativity and Family Matters @

Read Anjuelle's blogs and more about her @ and

Join Anjuelle's Facebook Fan Page @

Follow Anjuelle on Twitter @:

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