All Men Are Free
At its heart is the question of slavery. It is appalling to the modern reader that this vile trade ever existed. Slaves were not seen as people but commodities. Some were treated well, others not but a palace is as much of a prison as a shack if you are not free.
Oney was a forward thinking young woman who wanted not only her freedom. “I’ve had enough of bein’ property. I wanna own my own body.” She wanted an education too. She was a very brave young woman.
The novel surrounds the plight of women. Even those who thought they were free, were actually subject to the will of their husbands.
There is a tentative bond between Oney and her mistress. She was treated kindly but still seen as a possession to be given away on a whim.
Religion is mentioned. There are some who want religion and the state separate, others who want them tied together. The African Free Church plays a part in Oney’s life. She also observes her mistress “prayed whenever she wanted a favor from God, but I never heard her thank Him afterward.”
The novel is a comprehensive account of life in the 1790’s. The reader hears about the War Of Independence – ironically not all men were free – and the French Revolution. The reader is party to parlour gossip.
Oney is brave, gutsy and likable. The reader cheers her on, urging her towards freedom. I liked her.
A powerful emotional read surrounding an abhorrent practice.
To all those brave men, women and children. “Slavery took our bodies but they can’t take our souls.”
I received this book for free from the Book Gobbler. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.