The debut of a major new talent, SAPPHIRE'S GRAVE tells the stories of several generations of African-American women, bringing their spirit and their sorrow to life with a power, sensitivity, and immediacy.
In 1749 in Sierra Leone, a woman of fierce dignity is captured and forced onto a slave ship. On the harrowing voyage to the Americas, she is beaten for her unrelenting will and staunch pride. When she arrives, she gives birth to a daughter who is called Sapphire because of the "black-blue-black" complexion she shares with her mother. Sapphire has also inherited her mother's strength and defiant spirit, and despite a life of poverty and opression, she grows up to mother several daughters of her own. Even when tragedy strikes and part of Sapphire dies, her strength gives rise to a legend that will sustain the women who follow her, "each carrying something of her mother, her grandmother, her aunts; each passing on to her own daughters blessing and cursing, the consequences of her own choosing.
Through the lives of Sapphire and her descendants, Hilda Gurley-Highgate not only creates a poignant and engrossing saga of black women in America, she brilliantly illuminates the meaning of roots and the links between women and their female ancestors, a tie that often appears tenuous, undefined, and distant, but is strong, palpable, and much closer than we imagine. Written in luminous prose, SAPPHIRE'S GRAVE is an astonishing work by an author poised to take the literary world by storm.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: Sapphire's Grave|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Broadway Books|
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Warren County, North Carolina
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh.
At first, the people did not believe; not when they were gathered together, the music of their whispered prayers, their plaintive sighs, silenced; hoes in hand, their faces expectant; their feet caked with the red mud of the field, the lush, May grass beneath them, they listened but did not hear the message, the messenger, through lies and deceit, having lost the faith of the congregants many decades ago. They could go, or they could stay--it was up to them entirely. The people stood stunned, the messenger thought, into a silence of incredulity and joy. But it was only the silence of disbelief, and the fear of deception kept their feet frozen to the grass. The fear of lashing and the loss of children, limbs, bound their feet to the muddy soil, and flattened the grass of a fine spring day, when freedom came four months late to taunt them, pitiless and unkind.
It was not until they were dismissed, by the nod of the messenger, his face crimson, his eyes afraid, that they turned en masse to return to the fields, the stables, the kitchens, and parlors of their labor. In these, their places, they resumed their work--the mindless, often backbreaking toil that blunted their senses and made possible the breaking of their spirits, that part of them which might have otherwise been free. They would not believe. They set their faces. They would not believe until God himself said it.
Sister, too, did not believe that she was free; not when she ventured alone, with caution, to the edge of the field, unsure whether she was seen, then wandered back to the high, dense to...