Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Original Sins

In Original Sins, author Peg Kingman sets forth to paint a picture of slavery and freedom in the United States during the mid-1800s.  She reflects the issues and attitudes of the time by depicting an intrigue centering around the main character, Grace, a Scottish woman living in the United States with her husband and child.  Grace is a abolitionist, scientist and free thinker.  Her history and circumstances bring her into conflict with distant relatives and former slaves.  In order to give a more complete picture of this time period, Kingman has worked hard to include a variety of then-current theological arguments and some scientific studies including the early development of photography.

This kind of story, one that presents a multi-faceted, thinking woman, is among my favorite.  In Grace, Kingman does a wonderful job of showing a well rounded woman, limited by her society but not by herself.  I thoroughly enjoyed Grace.  The other characters, while numerous, were hand picked to portray certain stereotypes of the time.  Grace seemed to be the only character that was allowed to be multi-dimensional.  This aspect reminded me that we tend to see people from only one perspective.  Even though the story wasn't told from Grace's point of view we are only able to experience the other characters in a singular sense.

My one disappoinment in the story had to do with theology and Grace's determination that because some theology (mainly that of the slave holder) was wrong then all theology was in doubt.  I know that characters must take a point of view.  It would have been nice if a less extreme point of view could have been offered.  I expect that Grace's mother-in-law could have offered a lovely perspective on being truly Christ like as could have the Quaker family but neither were asked.  Perhaps, their actions speak louder than any words could have.

The historical aspects and interest in this story make it worth the read and the main character makes it worthwhile.  While some of the intrigue and characters seemed to drag a bit, overall, the book was enjoyable, well written and well-researched.

No comments:

Post a Comment