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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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The White Paperback – September 9, 2003

3.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her first novel, poet Larsen (Stitching Porcelain) mines historical territory, reinterpreting the life of Mary Jemison, a white woman who was captured in 1758 by a Shawnee raiding party at her home in Gettysburg, Pa., while the rest of her family was murdered and scalped. In Larsen's retelling, 16-year-old Mary will not speak to her captors at first, trying to keep her mind blank of all thoughts other than escape, concentrating solely on her mother's last words to her: "do not forget your English." Mary is eventually adopted by another tribe, the Seneca. Learning their language and culture, marrying and bearing six children, Mary ultimately finds herself at home with them and no longer feels the compulsion to escape or return to white society at all. Larsen's lyricism and imagery are haunting, and her poet's sensibility is omnipresent, especially in her descriptions of the natural world. Yet the first-person reflections that Larsen intersperses throughout somehow don't quite live up to the sensational story. Mary's voice is likable but not fully developed, and not nearly as compelling as Larsen's more straightforward descriptions of Seneca life and the encounters between Native American and white society. After the real-life Jemison told her story to a physician and local historian, James Seaver, she reportedly said, "I did not tell them who wrote it down half of what it was." Larsen's tale soars with poetic language, but does not quite succeed in filling in the missing half.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Based on historical events, this well-wrought, carefully researched novel depicts the life of Mary Jemison, "the White Woman of the Genesee." Mary, a member of the Seneca tribe for more than 70 years, was born and raised among Irish pioneers in the Pennsylvania wilderness. In 1758, the settlement near Gettysburg where 16-year-old Mary lived with her family was attacked by Shawnee warriors and their French allies. Those who are not killed outright are taken captive. After a brutal forced march to Fort Duquesne (during which some of Mary's family are scalped), the girl is chosen for adoption by two young Seneca women. Although at first she begs for death, Mary adjusts to her new life with the help of her Seneca family's kindness and care, eventually marrying and becoming a major landowner. During a long life marked by both joy and tragedy, she has opportunities to leave but chooses not to rejoin white society. The author of Stitching Porcelain, a book of poems, Larsen tells Mary's story in elegant, poetic language that evokes time, place, and character with feeling and conviction and brings to life a historical period unfamiliar to many. For most fiction collections. Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375712895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375712890
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The White" is sparse, yet rich with imagery and color. The story opens with a young girl's plight as her family is captured and destroyed by Indians in the mid 1700's. She alone lives to share the tale. Mary's story, based on fact, is told with a simple style befitting her mindset. She is emotionally dead and even language, in the aftermath of her sorrow, is a useless appendage to her.
As the story moves along, we see Mary open slowly to the warmth of her adopted Seneca family. Particularly, the sincere and sensitive advances of her future Indian husband crack her shell of grief. At times, Larsen's words have haunting power. At other times, they simply fill the book in its headlong rush to a conclusion. So much is skipped over that it was hard not to feel cheated. Unlike other reviewers, I appreciated the first-person accounts, almost wishing Larsen had pursued this approach throughout. If Larsen truly wanted to fictionalize and expand upon this true story, why not do it with depth? Why, for example, should we feel any true sorrow over the deaths of Mary's sons when we see so little of the relationship between them all?
The aspects of Seneca life and thought are tantalizingly interspersed through the story, and the dark images of injustice done to and by the Indians give this novella historical worth. As a story, it is interesting, as well as briefly and intermittently moving. Although fully worth the brief amount of time required to read, "The White" left me wondering why I wasn't given more to chew on. As small reward, Larsen does end with Mary's first childhood memory, one that not only carries symbolic and emotional meaning, but also calls into question our very understanding of the book's simple title.
Perhaps, on a second reading, this book is not so simple after all.
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Format: Paperback
This brief beautifully written novel, based on the real life of Mary Jemison, reads more like a short epic poem. Written in an almost stream-of-consciousness style, the narrative follows the history of Ms. Jemison from the time she is captured by the Shawnee until her death many years later. Until the day she died, she chose to remain with the Indians, even when provided with the choice of returning to the White world. In the interim, she marries twice (and is widowed both times) and bears 6 children. Her capture is sudden and shocking and she lives while she watches her entire family die. Her silence becomes her refuge; within it she heals, and is able to adjust to her new life. She becomes a part of the Seneca tribe in trade for a brother who died fighting the whites. Thus the brutal conflict, as well as the peaceful blending, of two cultures becomes the backdrop of Mary's existence. The wonders of the natural world, as well as the cruelty of mankind, are revealed in the descriptions of the world and the people who inhabit it. The love of family and the pain and loss of war are both described in prose that works as poetry. Mary, taken in by two sisters who care for her, slowly adapts to the Seneca ways of life and ultimately finds a world she does not want to leave. The story slowly unfolds and the narration is split between third person and first person. Mary's thoughts are scattered at times, but they parallel the action and can be quite effective and moving. However, I wanted to read more, in more depth, than this brief novel provided to me. I found Mary's story fascinating and this book just gave me a taste of it. Lovely novel, far too brief.
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Format: Hardcover
I like historical fiction, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on THE WHITE by Deborah Larsen. I had also read a previous account of Mary Jemison, a white women who lived her entire life with the Indians. She willingly stayed it seems as she was given the opportunity to return to her own people a number of times. Mary was sixteen in 1758 when she and her family were taken by a Shawnee raiding party. She is adopted by two Seneca sisters and given the name Two-Falling Voices. She resembles their brother who'd been killed in battle and is taking his place.
THE WHITE is a small book, only two hundred nineteen pages with lots of white space. Larsen alternates between Mary's own voice and third person. It's hard to know if the italicized material is Mary's actual voice or a fictionalized version of what she said in A NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF MARY JEMISON: THE WHITE WOMAN OF THE GENESEE, by James Everett Seaver, M.D., which was first published in 1823.
Despite its brevity, I was impressed by a number of things. Mary's first husband, Sheninjee, was not the chauvinistic warrior of countless Hollywood movies. He woos Mary by helping her hoe corn. He dies on a trading mission and she takes a second husband, Hiokatoo, an ancient warrior who'd fought in countless battles. He likes to brag about the number of scalps he's taken, and at first Mary is offended by this, until they discuss it. The discussion sounds like something out of Margaret Meade. Larsen emphasizes the fact that the Indians did not invent scalping. The French put bounties on the heads of the aboriginals and the scalp was evidence.
At the end of her life Mary owns 10,000 acres of land, but she also loses three of her sons who killed each other, their brains pickled by drink. The funeral eulogy is quite shocking. "Go!
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