Review: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah BirdCover: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

Cathy Williams was a slave born of a slave and a freeman on a Missouri tobacco plantation.  He mother was the daughter of an African queen and never let Cathy forget the fact.  Cathy’s father, a freedman and tailor, taught her proper English and math. Thus, Cathy was no ordinary slave.  When General Phillip Henry Sheridan liberates her from the plantation, she joins his staff as an assistant for his cook, Solomon.  Solomon teaches Cathy many life lessons to better her as well. As the war comes to a close, Cathy gains a taste of freedom and does not want to give it up.

At the war’s end, Cathy choses to disguise herself as a man and join the new regiments known as the Buffalo Soldiers.  These all-black troops would serve out West where it was thought they could be free of racism. Not only do they learn this is not the case, the soldiers must also tackle a lazy commanding officer and numerous building projects.  Cathy personally struggles to hide who she is from the men who believe her to be a “sodomite” and often takes brutal teasing. How will she handle this? How does it affect her relationships with others she serves with? What will happen if her true self is discovered?  Read and find out.

If one was expecting biographical of historical fiction with this novel, the reader will be disappointed.  While aspects of both were included, Bird mainly focused on the fictional Cathy’s very real and very vivid struggles, including freedom, the desire to love, and hiding her true self.  With that in mind, this was more of a coming of age novel. The segment of the novel set after Cathy joins the Buffalo Soldiers reads much like a western, so lovers of that genre would enjoy that part of the novel. Cathy’s mooning over her sergeant,though, brings in elements of a romance.  In terms of historical facts, several were included but the timeline of much was simplified and shifted as to not match the real Cathy Williams’ life. Throughout, the language is a little rough, so this is not a clean read. Even when blank lines were used to represent the worst words, it was still easy from the context to figure out which was meant.  As a whole, this novel was one where I liked bits and pieces, but, as a whole was not quite what I was expecting.

Do you think you will read this book?  If not, why? Do you have another book of a female masquerading as a man to recommend?  I know I shared about I Shall be Near to You several years ago, but there are more out there, both fact and fiction.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced digital copy.  This novel was released last week.



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