Monday Recommends and Nail Art: Book Review and Harvest

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I was listening to 12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, which I highly recommend. It’s a true story of a free black man who was kidnapped from a free state and sold into slavery in the south. It took him twelve years to get word to his people of where he was so they could rescue him.

But that’s not the book I’m recommending today. Northup mentions Harriet Beecher Stowe’s A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, where she talks about and quotes from her source material. I’m reading that, now.

As I listened to Northup’s book, it occurred to me that I’ve never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, despite having heard about it all my life. So I bought it and read it. I highly recommend it. Stowe is actually a writer of not inconsiderable power and enviable sarcasm. She defied society and custom and enraged any number of her friends and relatives by writing about slavery as she knew it to be from first hand accounts. She shows the abuses of slavery without sensationalism, making them even worse by displaying how ordinary and unremarkable the powerful and the powerless assume them to be. She shows the kindness and even indulgence of some “owners”, while never letting you forget that the system itself is an unthinkable abuse of humanity. In more than one case, the comfortable fiction of an “owner”‘s kindness is shattered by the “owner”‘s death or sudden debt, which results in the sale of “our people” (as the slaves were sometimes called).

Yes, little Eva is too pure an angel to be true, and Uncle Tom is too faithful in service to be admirable if you’re looking for a rebel to represent your outrage, but Stowe has her reasons. Stowe wrote as a staunch Christian who believed that Christianity is supposed to mean what it professes. Eva seems weird because she does love everybody equally, does want everybody to be well and happy and well treated, does want to take the place of an overworked servant because the servant deserves rest. Of course she has to die; how could such a person live under a legal system that says slavery is fine and a religious establishment that agrees?

Uncle Tom is a model of faithfulness who dies, not because he’s faithful to his master, but because he’s faithful to keeping secret the escape plans of two of his fellow slaves in flat defiance of his master’s demand that he give up the secret. Two black overseers follow the master’s orders and beat Tom to death. So is Tom a character whose name should have become a hissing and a byword? Is he?

Stowe doesn’t spare the Northerners, either: She pulls back the curtain on the northerners who approve laws that keep slavery legal, that expand the reach of “owners” to retrieve people who have escaped to free states, who legalize slave-catching and connive in kidnapping and selling free people, who trade in black bodies in the south from their offices in the north, and more.

Talking about nail art is rubbish after all that, but here are my nails this week:

Brown base color, gold glitter on pinkies and thumbs, stamps in orange, green, and dark brown.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Someone doesn’t behave as someone else thinks they should.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Monday Recommends and Nail Art: Book Review and Harvest

  1. acflory

    October 30, 2023 at 5:20pm

    Ugh, you’ve reminded me that I haven’t read Uncle Tom’s Cabin either. The closest I’ve come was that scene in the King and I. I’ll have to remedy this. Thanks for a great review.

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  2. Dan Antion

    October 30, 2023 at 5:55pm

    Thanks for a wonderful and thought provoking review. I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but as an assignment many years ago. I have periodically been rereading some of those books (now that I don’t have to). I think I need to add this to the list.

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      Marian Allen

      October 31, 2023 at 2:01pm

      Not a perfect book, but compelling. It’s amazing how snotty a well-bred Christian woman can be with a few well-chosen words.

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