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Sweetsmoke Hardcover – September 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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"David Fuller vividly and movingly describes the life of Cassius, a slave on a Virginia tobacco plantation. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Sweetsmoke resonates with unforgettable characters and a gripping story of loss and survival."―Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South
"With Sweetsmoke, David Fuller gives an extraordinarily nuanced, privileged, and convincing view of the world of slavery during the American Civil War, and of the hearts and minds of the men and women who had to live in that world."―Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls' Rising and Toussaint Louverture
Top Customer Reviews
As the story progressed, I became convinced why a black woman's death, slave or free, would have a devastating affect on both black and white, and especially Cassius, as the author drew a picture of Emoline as savior and guardian angel, yet a flawed and vulnerable woman. Emoline and Cassius have a special bond through his owner and her former owner, Hoke Howard, the tortured master of Sweetsmoke. Cassius plots his investigation carefully, yet methodically, never wavering from his mission to find the truth. For every answer Cassius gets, there arises another question; just who was Emoline, other than the woman who rescued him after the most devastating time of his life? A fortunate teller, a healer, and a risk taker; she taught him to read and write and exposed him to literature at a time when it was against the law to teach a slave to read, but Emoline had many secrets.
Cassius' past and present collide amidst the superstitious beliefs of the slaves; there is an aura of bad luck that surrounds him. But while he is somewhat of a pariah, he is also a trusted slave and respected among the field hands and the house servants. Nevertheless, his life as a slave is no less easy; the daily existence to not only stay alive, but to stay one step ahead of those who own him.Read more ›
I was so impressed with Fuller's development of the central character, Cassius Howard, a slave who was trained by the plantation owner, Hoke Howard, as a carpenter and as such was given certain freedom and was on occasion lent to other plantation to help them in their buildings. Cassius is a reflective, intelligent and secret individual with great strength of character along with many internal conflicts:
"Sounds of the plantation slipped in clear and bright, then were just as quickly muffled, a fragment of work song followed by a ghostly stillness, the drifting laughter of children, blown away by the rush of overhead wind. A deep ache built inside him as he listened to people living, working and being together. A fierce and terrible melancholy gripped him and he did not understand why the feeling made him desire to live.
Finally, a breath of breeze passed under the brim of his hat and cooled the sweat, and Cassius was released from the moment."
When Cassius learns that Emoline, the free woman who helped him when he was deeply injured, has been murdered, he vows to find out who murdered her and avenge her.Read more ›
Fuller beautifully describes this nightmarish landscape, characters defined by their circumstances and limitations, Cassius's life one of nearly unendurable grief. Nursed back to physical and emotional health after the loss of his wife and the uncertain fate of his son, Cassius is profoundly grateful for the ministrations of a local freed black woman, Emoline Justice. A healer/herbalist, Emoline nurses the broken Cassius, teaching him the forbidden- reading- over the long, pain-wracked nights of his recovery. Such small moments of grace keep Cassius from despair.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Cassius, a slave on a tobacco plantation in Virginia in 1862, Sweetsmoke. Surprisingly, he survives in a twisted world. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Sweetladysutton
I would give this book 3.5 stars and am rounding it up to 4 because Amazon doesn't allow us to rate by ".5" increments. And I think I'm being generous. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mystic by the Lake
Read this with my book club and enjoyed very much. I recommended the book to several other friends. I'll keep it in my library.Published on March 16, 2014 by Lynnea Kirk
The main reason I wanted to read Sweetsmoke was because I wanted to understand the relationships between the races during that time. Read morePublished on February 10, 2013 by Wacissa Blue
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sweetsmoke. The characters are well-drawn, the plot moves with a true direction, and the author's voice is clear and consistent. Read morePublished on September 8, 2011 by David
Cassius is a carpenter slave who enjoys a comfortable status on his plantation. When his one true friend, Emoline is murdered, he goes on a quest to find her murderer. Read morePublished on June 28, 2011 by Julie Lovisa
The first half of Sweetsmoke is just great - the depiction of plantation life and the characters take you right into the heart of the civil war South. Read morePublished on August 4, 2010 by J. Fuchs