It took me a while to finish this book, especially in the beginning, perhaps because I couldn’t quite get the hang of the language. I also couldn’t relate to the characters. I read the first few chapters last year and put it down for a while.
This year, with the pandemic and the oppression, I picked up the book again and read it from the start. The language was still quite confusing, but I liked how Harriet weaved her sentences. She used punctuation marks well. I like it when books have great use of punctuation marks. I think the more serious works must have this, especially those that are highly introspective. It gives the realistic “flow of thoughts” of the characters, even the writer’s herself. I’ll remember this. Sharp and short sentences, I’ll reserve them for my persuasive works and cheeky essays. I think it’ll work well with those kinds of writing.
About the characters, there wasn’t someone I cared enough about at the start of the novel, except maybe for little Harry and Eliza. I liked her kind of strength — quiet and feminine. The other characters have been so hammered and destitute, that it took me a while to get through to them, especially to George. I admire him, but he was so angry — as he should — but as in real life, anger tends to make it difficult for people to understand each other. When he gained wisdom and calm to devise a plan to escape, I slowly became more and more supportive of him. I guess it’s my analytical side that makes me understand people when they’re in the “problem-solving mode.”
I liked how Harriet wrote the antagonists, too. They seem like caricatures, but I realized, maybe that was how people acted in the past. They came from a different era, after all.
The novel became easier to read when they introduced precious Evangeline. I love her. She was too good for this world, like Uncle Tom. I think the author did this intentionally. To make “too good to be true” characters for the horrible reality in each scene of oppression shown in the novel. According to the end-notes, most of the scenes there have been based in real life accounts that time.
I also liked how she never condemned anyone in her book. It was a gentle persuasion, palatable to most people, appealing to the humanity in the reader. I think I will use this in my short story. I mean connecting the less fortunate people’s troubles with the problems of the people who can actually do something to change the situation.