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The Orphan Mother
Cover of The Orphan Mother
The Orphan Mother
A Novel

An epic account of one remarkable woman's quest for justice from the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country.

In the years following the Civil War, Mariah Reddick, former slave to Carrie McGavock—the "Widow of the South"—has quietly built a new life for herself as a midwife to the women of Franklin, Tennessee. But when her ambitious, politically-minded grown son, Theopolis, is murdered, Mariah—no stranger to loss—finds her world once more breaking apart. How could this happen? Who wanted him dead?

Mariah's journey to uncover the truth leads her to unexpected people—including George Tole, a recent arrival to town, fleeing a difficult past of his own—and forces her to confront the truths of her own past. Brimming with the vivid prose and historical research that has won Robert Hicks recognition as a "master storyteller" (San Francisco Chronicle).

An epic account of one remarkable woman's quest for justice from the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country.

In the years following the Civil War, Mariah Reddick, former slave to Carrie McGavock—the "Widow of the South"—has quietly built a new life for herself as a midwife to the women of Franklin, Tennessee. But when her ambitious, politically-minded grown son, Theopolis, is murdered, Mariah—no stranger to loss—finds her world once more breaking apart. How could this happen? Who wanted him dead?

Mariah's journey to uncover the truth leads her to unexpected people—including George Tole, a recent arrival to town, fleeing a difficult past of his own—and forces her to confront the truths of her own past. Brimming with the vivid prose and historical research that has won Robert Hicks recognition as a "master storyteller" (San Francisco Chronicle).

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About the Author-
  • Robert Hicks is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Widow of the South and A Separate Country. He lives in Tennessee.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 25, 2016
    Hicks’s (The Widow of the South) latest yarn opens two years after the end of the Civil War, focusing on freed slave Mariah Reddick, a trusted and sought-after midwife in Franklin, Tenn. Mariah now has a grown son, Theopolis, a cobbler with political aspirations. Mariah becomes acquainted with George Tole, a free black New Yorker whose reputation as a sharp-shooting assassin precedes him to Franklin. But George has been coerced by an evil Franklin magistrate, Elijah Dixon, to do his bidding, and when a political rally at which Theopolis tries to take the stage becomes violent, the young man is killed—but it’s not clear who killed him. The lives of Mariah and George converge as Mariah seeks retribution and George seeks redemption, each playing a major role in unmasking the latent nastiness among the deeply prejudiced Franklin citizenry. Hicks is a talented storyteller, and this story moves at a clip, but it feels deliberate and inorganic, his characters sometimes seemingly just vehicles moving the story forward. Mariah has lost her only son, yet she shows an unbelievable lack of emotion. The bad guys, while compelling, are amusing caricatures. Only George seems truly flesh and blood, and is the most memorable character. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary.

  • AudioFile Magazine The heartbreaking story of former slave and midwife Mariah Reddick is intelligently presented by narrator Adenrele Ojo. Mariah navigates the shifting relationships between Southern owners and former slaves during the the Reconstruction era. Ojo reflects Mariah's joy at her newly won freedom and the fear and horror she suffers as her only son exercises those new rights. A tone of regret and anger creep into Ojo's voice as Mariah seeks justice. Tenderly portrayed by Ojo, a chaste romance between Mariah and a sniper seeking redemption elevates this potential potboiler into an effective historical novel. Fans of Hicks's bestselling WIDOW OF THE SOUTH will find some of the same characters here, now accepting new roles as the South changes. R.O. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2016
    Hicks (A Separate Country, 2009, etc.) extends his Tennessee-set historical saga into the years immediately following the Civil War.The Reconstruction Era was one of the messiest times in American history, not least because establishing civil and political rights for African-Americans newly freed from slavery was left unfinished for another century. That turmoil forms the setting for Hicks' latest, located, as was its predecessor volume, in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville. Formerly a slave in the household of Carrie McGavock, the widow of Hicks' title, Mariah Reddick has long been renowned as a midwife, and in this work she has built up both property holdings and local esteem. Her son, Theopolis, has empire-building desires of his own that earn him a bullet and Mariah endless suffering; Carrie assures Mariah that "he was a special boy," but that does nothing to ease the pain except to establish yet another bond between the two women, one forged in "grief and rage so inarticulate and so elemental that [Mariah] would come to rely upon it, like a cane or an extra toe, to give her balance." Now the question is to find out who wanted Theopolis dead, and why. There is no shortage of suspects among the dispossessed planters and crofters "made poor and small by Reconstruction, their punishment for opposing the Republicans and fighting for the Confederacy." The villain of the piece has murkier motives still, but Hicks nicely complicates what otherwise is a historical potboiler with the arrival of a soft-spoken African-American sleuth who digs into the mystery while nursing griefs of his own. Tole has reasons for going after the conspirators who murdered Theopolis, and though Carrie assures Mariah that as the town's midwife "you're the mother of everyone in Franklin," it's a hailstorm of avenging bullets and not kind words that makes this engaging novel pop.Satisfying historical fiction, of particular appeal to readers who live near the banks of the Harpeth or Cumberland.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    April 15, 2016
    Midwife Mariah Reddick, the former slave of Carrie McGavock (seen in Hicks's "New York Times" best seller, "The Widow of the South"), searches for justice when her upwardly striving son is murdered.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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