Vanessa V. Friedman
August 20, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Long Way From Home

Current Status
In Season
Connie Briscoe
Historical Fiction, Fiction

We gave it a C+

A LONG WAY FROM HOME Connie Briscoe (HarperCollins, $25) If Margaret Mitchell had imagined Scarlett O’Hara as a slave instead of a plantation belle, this semi-epic novel of the South might have been the result. The heroine is Susan Madison, a slave who at 14 is ripped from her mother and sister, sold to a man in town, given to his daughter to be her maid, and renamed Susanne. As Lincoln prepares the Emancipation Proclamation and the old Southern structures disintegrate, Susan reclaims her name, her person, and, finally, her past. Susan is based on the author’s great-great-grandmother, and as a result the book fairly reeks of the legends families create around their ancestors. Too bad it ends with a great clang of cliches. C+ — Vanessa V. Friedman

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