Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Historical Fiction at Its Finest

The Color Of Lightning by Paulette Jiles
Historical Fiction

This is a true story you probably haven't heard before--an unknown tale about a man and his quest for justice and love that is haunting and tragic and beautiful.

Britt Johnson is starting a new life in Texas after recently being freed from his life as a slave in Kentucky.  He and his wife and 3 kids buy a little farm and start on a new beginning.  When Britt leaves to gather supplies, Native Americans launch a brutal and bloody attack on the small settlement, attacking the women and children left behind.  While many are killed, Britt's wife and two children are taken captive.  Britt returns to find one son dead and his dreams for a new life destroyed.  Britt is determined to get his family back and stops at nothing to find and save them.

The description of the attack was so brutal and horrific and rang so utterly true that I had to stop reading briefly and walk away.  It truly bends the mind to realize what early settlers endured-such pain and conditions that most of us read about as if it were fiction only.  To see it written about and know it actually happened to a woman and her children was upsetting and sobering.  This is not a tale to be read lightly.  The life of the kidnapped family is both horrid and fascinating; reading the grim description of their ordeal and the suffering is addictive.  I had to stop reading and do some research on the stories of Indian kidnappings because of all the details in the story--it made me want to know more.  It seemed too much to be true and yet was.  Learning that some victims refused to go 'home' after a life with their captors and the many cultural understandings on both sides was mind-boggling.

Even if the story weren't so captivating, Jiles's prose would be.  Her words flow along like a river, beautiful and poetic even when describing man's most horrifying brutality.  Jiles reminds me why I love historical fiction--the best stories are those already lived through.

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