John Brown strays from the merely familiar as he treks though the 1860s American landscape and unearths the passions of early homesteaders and pioneers. His central characters righteously uphold the promise of liberty and challenge the slave system in an era when slavery flourished. At times, Brown projects his own values onto the page; still, the story is absorbing and so fact-filled, you'll feel smarter after reading it.
A Great Read! --
John H. Brown's A Wind of Many Colors combines a love-story, murder mystery and pure adventure set against the background of pre-Civil War events.
So accurately does he weave the plot and actions of the day that the reader is challenged to distinguish between fact and fancy. In the first novel in a planned trilogy, Brown displays natural storytelling talent as he weaves events around historical developments and customs of mid-19th century America. Brown's breadth of knowledge displays an encyclopedic grasp of a burgeoning period in the country's frontier expansion and his story becomes a fascinating and moving chronicle of these unfolding circumstances and human experiences.
The tale is rooted in a tapestry of robust characters whose parents and grandparents reached America's shores in ships powered by the wind. Before the Civil War, these people and their descendants considered themselves as Irish, English, German, Spanish, French or Negro, all living among the American Indians.
Brown deftly describes how a remarkable group of this ethnic mix in 1859 leave their mansions or shacks to ride the trails or cruise on luxurious steamboats. The author vividly describes how they congregate briefly on the edge of civilization in what he depicts as one of the most unruly places that the frontier ever harbored. And this is where he brings into focus a remarkable group of women who kept a thin veneer of civilization in place in a tough river settlement that became known as Kansas City. The story's journey, however, first travels through the Cumberland Gap to Louisville and Paducah, on down to New Orleans through Memphis, then up to St. Louis, out the Missouri to the famous trails and back to Kansas City.
In riveting, rhythmic prose, Brown first crafts a sequence of attacks on the successful Purdy family. How he leads Purdy to his intended goal [of retribution] is one of the compelling scenes in current fiction. Brown's novel, reminiscent of the breadth of Gone With the Wind and the suspense of North and South, is an enjoyable and informative picture of a harrowing period on the American landscape. He balances insight into the motivations of his characters with the determination of the men and the resourcefulness, strength and intelligence of the women.
Brown's narrative moves smoothly. His plot develops with intriguing suspense. His dialog is crisp. And his use of dialect captures the flavor of the times. When readers reach the last chapter, they will feel it is too good to end here.
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