Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Touched With Fire by Chistoper Datta

TWF Giveaway

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Ellen Craft is property

In this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father:” the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale—indeed, lily-white—skin.

Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run North. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey—South again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.

Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.

Author: Christopher Datta

Genre: Historical/Women's/African American Fiction

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Review:


This story is is an unusual tale of courage and inspiration. A tale of a woman’s fight  to get her husband back. Ellie is a black woman. Only no one could make it out. She is a product of her mother being raped by her biological father. So, was her grandma before that by the master who had enslaved her. Thus, Thus, her skin color was white though her she was still considered from the black ancestory. But, her fate was that of a slave and just because she was beautiful, she lived in the constant fear of being raped by the white men. She is still a slave in her own father's house-looking after her sister and taking care of the house as a slave should. Her own father feels no shame in using her like that and did not have any inclination to free her to live a life of freedom.

. The family didn’t understand her anger, her loathe at her lifestyle. She too had the right to study, choose a profession, marry and live with the person she wanted to live with. But, the constant fear of slavery always hung above her head. After her marriage to Will, she always feared that she might be sold to a higher bidder when her ‘so called’ family needed more money’. Same would be the fate of the children born in slavery. Ellie had already decided that she would never have children till her dream of becoming free did not come true.

Her father did not love her, And never wanted her welfare. In fact, the day her half sister got married- she was presented as the dowry for her sister. Ellie might have continued this life had not the gnawing dream that one day she would be free always troubled her.

One day, she decided to try her luck out. Instead of living the life that she was born in, Ellie dressed up like a white man and decided to travel to Philadephia where slavery was not there.  Her husband accompanied her – posing as her slave.. Christopher Datta has done a fabulous job in describing Ellie’s journey from Georgia to Philadelphia as a white gentleman. The adventures she encounters and also the people she meets. But, no one suspects that she was not a man but a woman.

The adventures of Ellie as a man does not end here. At the end of the journey Will could not accompany her – since the law had come into being that no slave would leave the region without the paperwork being shown. Ellie could not show any papers to the authorities as she didn’t have any. Thus at the insistence of her husband   she had to travel further on.

After Ellie gets separated from Will, the circumstances becomes such that she is forced to join the Army. The Army at that time, was fighting to abolish slavery, which Ellie wholeheartedly joined since she too had this burning desire in her to free her people from this slavery. She joins as a young soldier dressed in a man's garb. The other’s find her a bit strange, but they all wholeheartedly accept her. She finds some binding friendships in the Army- Al and Joe.

Six years of battle changes Ellie a lot..Her anger drives her to fight like a man. There are many instances in this battle when she thinks like a man. It was not only a fight against slavery but also a fight each day to maintain her feminist qualities and not to deviate from her goals in life. Will she be able to survive this war? And to return home to free her husband, Will? To find out the answers pick up your copy of Touched by Fire by Christopher Datta.

Rating


Reasoning
I found this story very unusual. It is not only a story of slavery and desperation but also of bravery. To survive in the US Army dressed as a man, and her colleagues never came to know that she was a woman is itself a big feat. There are many nail biting instances in the story. Every moment I thought that now she will be caught – she rose like the Phoenix from the ashes and faced a new challenge with equal boldness. Ellie is not the typical heroine kind of girl – she has many faults too. Judgemental, selfish and to some extent lost only in her own problems. But that is what made her humane. Just like you and me.

The most unusual thing about this story which I found is that Ellie has been addressed not only as a she but also as a he.

From the point when Ellie becomes Eli – the author continuously describes her as a He, just to prove that this is what she trains herself to think.. Maybe, if she herself would have even thought  of  herself as a female, she would not have been able to survive six years pretending to be a man in the US Army. 

I could go on and on in this review regarding Ellie - I am so impressed with her. But, I leave it to you readers to form an opinion about Ellie and find out whether it is justified to immortalize her.

 But why the 4 stars? It would have been much better if this story would have just been a fiction and not a suggested biography. Of course, this is my personal opinion and you as a reader might differ.

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Review Event Schedule:
Date Blog
21-Apr My Devotional Thoughts
21-Apr Deal Sharing Aunt
22-Apr Jelly Side Up - Promo Only
22-Apr Our Wolves Den
23-Apr rubina ramesh
23-Apr The Mama Games
24-Apr My Writer's Cramp
24-Apr The World As I See It
25-Apr I am indeed
25-Apr Rachel Delane
26-Apr Rick And Eileen Bremner
26-Apr Author Interrupted
27-Apr Anna Tan
27-Apr Pete Waugh
28-Apr Alexa B
28-Apr Michelle Willms

About the Author:

Chris1Born in Washington, DC Chris Datta, Foreign Service officer, has been on numerous battlefields for his job and country. He has seen mass graves, brought war criminals to justice and in this new chapter, Datta brings readers a stunning historical account of the American Civil War with Touched with Fire. His attention to detail is superb, and his experiences abroad have given him ample stories to tell for years to come.

His action packed life has taken him across the world from the United States to Liberia and Southern Sudan. Not only serving in active war zones but often battling tropical diseases, Datta has nurtured his fascination with civil conflict by diving into the history books and historical records of America’s past. His research is meticulous, and his attention to detail creates vivid pictures of the past.

Follow Chris on his website for updates about new releases and upcoming events: http://touchedwithfire.org
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