Author: Carole Eglash-Kosoff
If a story can make me shed a tear or two, then it must have something extra and when you throw in American history, you have made my day.
Set in the deep south at the dawn of the dark days of the American Civil War and continuing in its aftermath, Carole Eglash-Kosoff's richly textured and dramatically compelling, When Stars Align features the lives of Thaddeus, a black servant and a white affluent girl, Amy, as well as their family and friends, whose exposure to slavery, segregation, racial prejudice, and war shaped their lives.
As the saga unfolds, we learn how Thaddeus was conceived when his teenage mother Rose was brutally raped by Henry Rogers, the son of the master of Moss Grove, the Louisiana plantation where she toiled. Upon discovering what happened, Henry's father, Jedidiah and his creole wife Ruby decide that Rose was to give up her son to Sarah, a Moss Grove house servant and the child was to be raised in their master's home-something Henry and Ruby knew would be breaking a number of cardinal rules in bringing a mixed colored baby into the house. Nonetheless, Jedidiah felt that in this point of his life he was free to bend the social mores of Louisiana and the south. Moreover, they decided to keep the birth of their grandson a secret, particularly from their son Henry and Rose was not to discuss Thaddeus's birth with anyone including her own son.
Young Thaddeus's is smitten when he first meets Amy as she arrives one day with Henry and his friends. What stood out was Amy's bright red hair, bangs that fell over her forehead, freckles that dotted her cherubic face and green eyes that quickened his pulse in an unfamiliar way. As long moments passed, the initial tense silence Thaddeus and Amy felt slowly dissipated with their shared pleasure of finding someone that was new and of their own age. “Their differences seemed to vanish. Neither the color of their skin nor their social standing separated them. Even their new sexuality was untested.” It was this initial feeling for each other that would dominate their lives for many years thereafter, however, would the stars ever align that would permit them to become a couple? How different would it have been if the they had lived in a country that would have permitted them to love as they had wanted?
Moss Grove was built by Jedidiah's grandfather in the early eighteen hundreds when Louisiana became part of the USA and his father Samuel had enlarged it and made it more elegant. The plantation profited from cotton and the backbreaking travails of their black slaves and servants that were considered to be their chattels, bought and paid for with written Bills of Sales to document the transaction. However, Moss Grove was to experience changes during and after the American Civil War that no one could have foreseen, and with haunting clarity and honesty the author presents her readers with a bird's eye view of the most cruel, most brutal, and most painful war in American history, all interwoven with Moss Grove, its owners and slaves. Nearly everybody, including the inhabitants of Moss Grove, had suffered in one way or another-no one was immune from the disastrous consequences of this war.
has a masterly sense of time and place, effectively using the history
of a horrific era to create a raw and compelling testament to the
prejudices, resentments, selfishness and cruelty that was constantly
boiling either beneath or on the surface. She has brilliantly
succeeded in conveying distinctive voices to her principal
characters, Amy and Thaddeus, exposing her readers to an
understanding of the dilemmas and ambiguities of their relationship
during a time when inter-racial relationships was seriously frowned
up and could even lead to some horrible and devastating
repercussions. Her sharply defined credible minor characters and the
ease in which an illusion is created where readers actually can
experience the atmosphere prevalent during this tragic period in
American history all make this novel come alive. In the end,
Eglash-kosoff showcases a talented compelling narrative voice that I
am sure we will be hearing more from in the future.
Click Here To Read Norm's Interview With Carole Eglash-Kosoff