Every family has secrets, but the Redds have more than most. Consider, for example, the fact that this North Carolina clan has two distinct branches, the white Redds and the black Redds, their former slaves. Through seven generations, their histories and their blood have mixed, culminating in the present-day occupants of Roseberry Plantation, solitary Coyle Redd and his black housekeeper (and distant cousin), China. When Coyle puts the dilapidated mansion up for auction, it would seem that the two families' shared past will finally come to an end; but in Nancy Peacock's remarkable saga, Home Across the Road, blood ties are not so easily severed. Skillfully jumping from present to past and back again, Peacock traces the Redd connection back to antebellum days when white plantation owner Jennis Redd fathered the child of his slave, Cally. When the boy, Cleavis, is 6 years old, Redd's jealous wife accuses him of stealing a pair of earrings that her own son really took, and has him sold away. In retaliation, Cally takes the earrings herself and buries them under the floor of her slave cabin. From this point on, the fortunes of the black Redds improve while those of the white Redds decline.
Peacock mixes a little magic into the parallel histories she tells, and conjures up an exquisite novel that is part ghost story, part meditation on the ineffable power of blood and history to bind people to a place, to each other, and to patterns of behavior that repeat themselves through the years. Home Across the Road is spare in its prose style but rich in the themes it mines. --Sheila Bright
With the simple, evocative grace of her nationally acclaimed debut novel, Life Without Water, Nancy Peacock has created a poignant story of two families -- one black, one white -- and the North Carolina house that binds their lives together for more than a hundred years.
In 1861, Roseberry was the plantation home of the white Redds; the black Redds were one of the slave families who worked there. In 1971, Roseberry stands empty, a wisteria vine growing through the dining room window, and China Redd, who worked in the house for half a century, is ready to die.
But first she has a story to tell. Not the one recorded by Lydia Redd, the matron of the house, in her own book, beginning with the earrings, the selling if Cleavis, and the curse, and ending with the death of Coyle, the last of the white Redds. If she has nothing else from the forty-seven years of work in a house where nothing was her own, she has this story.
Moving effortlessly back and forth in time through the parallel legends of the Redd families, Home Across the Road is a beautiful, haunting, and timeless drama that touches your heart and soul.
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