Hey everyone! While I normally post book reviews on my book blog, SilverWoodSketches, I’ve decided to move over bookish posts here instead. All thanks to Google’s recent cutbacks, and the fact I’m book blogging a lot less this year. Why? Because while last year I wanted to reconnect with the current Indie world and meet new authors, this year I’m reading more for me. Hence the reason I’ve only read 8 books since the year began. It’s given me the chance to really soak in stories like Cherokee America. Before I share my thoughts on this fantastic historical fic, a little info about the book and lovely author, Margaret Verble.
by Margaret Verble
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover & eBook; 400 Pages
Genre: Literary/Historical Fiction/Native American
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud’s Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center.
It’s the early spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation West. A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a preacher have all gone missing. Cherokee America Singer, known as “Check,” a wealthy farmer, mother of five boys, and soon-to-be widow, is not amused.
In this epic of the American frontier, several plots intertwine around the heroic and resolute Check: her son is caught in a compromising position that results in murder; a neighbor disappears; another man is killed. The tension mounts and the violence escalates as Check’s mixed race family, friends, and neighbors come together to protect their community—and painfully expel one of their own.
Cherokee America vividly, and often with humor, explores the bonds—of blood and place, of buried histories and half-told tales, of past grief and present injury—that connect a colorful, eclectic cast of characters, anchored by the clever, determined, and unforgettable Check.
5 of 5 Stars
The cover art for Cherokee America drew me in before I picked up the book. A lone woman on the prairie, with the wind tumbling through her shawl. It evoked that same sense of loneliness and longing as Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World. I wanted to know this woman’s story, and after reading the synopsis was hooked.
Cherokee America opens in a late 1800’s small town, as Check (Aunt Check to most folks) runs errands at the local general store. This simple setting, the hub center of the town, serves as a surprisingly perfect opening. Not only do we get a solid sense of Check’s no-nonsense way of viewing her neighbors and townsfolk, but also her compassion for the downtrodden. I felt like I was there with Check as she rescues a dying infant’s life.
This is the Cherokee Nation after the Civil War, after the land was ravaged for supplies from the armies, and the people are still attempting to cover the scars, both over the land and within themselves. There are people like Sanders, who walked the Trail of Tears and came out of the War with next to nothing, besides two wives named Nancy. There’s Puny, a former slave whose grief turns into a desperate quest for gold and a way to change his circumstances. And Check, who misses her Tennessee home, who is raising her children with a dying husband waiting at home. They keep to the Bible, while not wholly believing in or trusting all it represents. Claiming the whites’ religion hasn’t saved them from walking the trail to this new land, and it can’t save Check’s abolitionist husband an early grave. Still, Check keeps her farm running and family together as best she can.
Rather than split into chapters, the book is divided by titled scenes, interconnecting the story in a refreshing and fluid way. While usually told from Check’s perspective, we also see through the eyes of secondary and even minor characters like Check’s sons, Sanders and the two orphaned boys. As the story unfolds, pieces of a larger puzzle come together in an exciting way. The author, a member of the Cherokee Nation herself, uses the Cherokee alphabet and language through the book, which lends another layer of immersion to Verble’s story. I loved learning about Cherokee culture, alongside the darker aspects on both sides of the Civil War and all that came after.
Big events often have small beginnings. In the case of Cherokee America, a baby’s death drives a man to gold, a fever that quickly encompasses the whole town. Check and her family learns they are some of only a few who weren’t aware of the Wartime legend. And like it or not, the Singers are quickly embroiled in the inevitable conflict that comes after. Check struck me from the moment I first met her and I’ve found her character and spirit have lingered with me after. Great heroes aren’t always the most obvious, and Check’s determination, her love for her family and her people no matter their skin color or creed is what truly saves the day in the end. An expertly crafted picture into the heart of America after the Civil War, Verble’s historical drama is sure to capture readers to favor strong characters and compelling plots. Stunning and heartrending in turn, this is a story you won’t want to miss.
**I was provided with a copy of Cherokee America by the author and this is my voluntary and honest review.**
What others are saying about Cherokee America…
“Highly recommended for readers of literary historical fiction in the vein of Lalita Tademy’s Citizen’s Creek and Paulette Jiles’s News of the World.”
—Library Journal, STARRED review
“In Verble’s hands, this tale of a mother’s love and her gritty resolve in a shameful era of false promises and broken treaties makes for a rich, propulsive novel.”
“An impressive, historical saga of Native American life in the mid-19th century.”
“Cherokee America does what all the best historical fiction does—it vividly captures its particular time and place, yet simultaneously offers valuable insights about our own era. Margaret Verble is an exceptional storyteller, and this novel will enhance her already considerable literary reputation.”
—Ron Rash, author of Serena
About the Author
Margaret Verble is an enrolled and voting citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a member of a large Cherokee family that has, through generations, made many contributions to the tribe’s history and survival. Although many of her family have remained in Oklahoma to this day, and some still own and farm the land on which the book is set, Margaret was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.
Many of the characters of Maud’s Line are based on people Margaret knew as a child and the setting is land she roamed for many years of her life. In part, Margaret wrote this book to keep those people and that land alive in her heart.
Margaret’s new novel, Cherokee America, will be released by Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt on Feb. 19, 2019. A prequel to Maud’s Line, it is set in 1875 in the Arkansas River bottoms of the old Cherokee Nation West.
Margaret is a member of the Authors Guild and Western Writers of America.
Blog Tour Schedule
Don’t miss these other amazing tour stops! I really encourage you to hop over and visit these other hist-fic loving blogs. You might meet a new friend and fellow book lover in the process 🙂
Tuesday, February 19
Feature at Coffee and Ink
Tuesday, February 26
Review at Jennifer Silverwood’s Blog
Wednesday, February 27
Review at The Lit Bitch
Thursday, February 28
Review at Tar Heel Reader
Friday, March 1
Feature at View from the Birdhouse
Monday, March 4
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Friday, March 8
Interview at The Old Shelter
Monday, March 11
Interview at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, March 13
Review at Passages to the Past
One of my favorite parts of each tour is how each author gives back to the reading community 🙂 During the Blog Tour, HF Book Tours will be giving away five copies of Cherokee America by Margaret Verble! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.