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Inspired by a True Story, a Fight for a Better Life - an Editorial Review of "Lost Souls Recovered"

Book Blurb:

One man's journey toward a better life.

When the wife of a plantation owner dies on a fateful night in 1887, John Billingsly makes the gut-wrenching decision to leave his mother and everything he knows to flee their slave cabin in Richmond, Virginia. Instructed by his mother to find a cousin in Mt. Hope, Alabama, John wends his way south in hope of a better life.

With the plantation owner shadowing him every step of the way, his journey is perilous. One misstep could cost him his freedom— and his life.

Inspired by a true story, Lost Souls Recovered is a mesmerizing historical family saga of loss and gain, survival and self-reinvention, and one family's fight for freedom in the midst of the post-Civil War American South.,

Author Bio:

As an amateur genealogist and family historian, Eric Walker was impelled to write his debut novel “Lost Souls Recovered” when he discovered the richness of family stories through research of historical documents and those told to him by relatives. As he read historical documents and talked to relatives, he'd envision a way to bring to life in fiction form many of his ancestors who lived a hardscrabble life and who worked to overcome hardship. He believed the written word could unlock doors as well as the imagination and unite our spirit through our visions. He is working on a second novel involving loss of land by force and intimidation during the early post-Reconstruction era in the American South. He lives in Ohio.

Editorial Review:

Laura loathed that Tyrone had always been so paternalistic with his slaves and the ones who were his present workers. She thought he was too nice for his own good, failing to understand the immutable law of nature that separated the gentry from the untouchables, the mudsills.

When many think of the Emancipation Proclamation, most form the opinion that life for the emancipated slaves spelled freedom and a better future, yet this story, “Lost Souls Recovered” by Eric Walker reveals the continuing struggle for them, years after that document was put into action.

John, the son of emancipated slave Ann, still works for the former slave owners and faces a life-altering event at the age of fourteen at the hands of the plantation's owner's wife, Madame Billingsley, as well as a fatal event which causes him to have to make the hard decision to leave his mother behind and go in search of relatives in Alabama.

John had proven to be a fast study when it came to reading and writing, and he absorbed the world around him in an intuitive way that impelled him to want to live a bigger life. He didn't seem to have time to be intimate with anyone, or at least the desire, after what Madame Billingsley had done to him when he was fourteen.

This book is full of racism, inequality, and the emotional turmoil and struggles of this African American man during a time period when the suppressive Jim Crow laws persecuted and caged a man just as much as if he were still in slavery. The poem by Maya Angelou “Still I Rise” comes to mind throughout this novel – finding a voice and rising above adversity. Not only that, but the reader gets a real in-depth glimpse into this character's emotions in all their fullness and how events shadow over his life – from the death of his former slave owner to the powerful influence of his mother, to the very “Mark Twain-like” friendship he develops with Douglas as they encounter oppression along their journey.

Close your eyes, brothers and sisters. Now imagine a better life – one for you, your children, your grandchildren. Imagine a life where the colored people will be given the same equal opportunities as white people. Some of us may not live long enough to see the fruits of this new day, but our children and grandchildren will see it someday. We need to continue to chip away at the ugly walls of hatred. One day those walls will come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.”

Mr Walker's finesse in creating this work of historical fiction is reminiscent of timeless historical authors of the past, providing a true connection between the reader and the characters, especially John, the main character. Overall, the narrative is excellent, with satisfying history interwoven throughout the plotline, along with doses of romance and mystery, but might reach an even higher appeal by trimming some of the more superfluous and unnecessary side stories, making the main story tighter and less verbose. For this reviewer, the “extra” was enjoyable, however the length of the book might 'put-off' the regular historical fiction reader. The length and verbosity do not detract from the entertainment value of the story and is a worthy read for one who might want to dedicate more time to immerse themselves into this well-told story. Also, it is a story which still resonates in today's society of continued injustice and inequality.

As she had done too many times to count, she was set to go hither and thither to search for her missing boy. With time, she began to recover her soul that had been rended by Claude's disappearence.... She knew that John could never feel the depths of her pain; only a mother could. Someone like Ann, who surely felt it when she lost her husband when he was sold to another slave owner; when her twin eight-year-old daughters died of disease; and when John left home at seventeen.


Lost Souls Recovered” by Eric Walker receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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