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Baby to be proud of

By BARBARA WATSON

Jan 12, 2007, 05:22

Medicine Hat News Book Club

The publishing of a book is always an exciting affair. The book is like a baby to the author and the author-parent is eager to have others appreciate it. I took my time reading Patricia Marie Budd’s A New Dawn Rising and enjoyed the result of all the effort it took to create it.

Budd, a high school teacher in Fort McMurray, had included her phone number with promotional material she sent to the Medicine Hat News. I phoned her at the beginning of my reading her novel, to let her know that I loved the opening chapters and was very much moved by her plot and characters.

The story is set in Georgia in the early 1800’s, when slavery was in full force. The central character is 29 years old and looking forward to finally buying himself land and making it produce a profit. We are gradually informed of what brought John Connolley to this point in his life, and the revelations are shocking to someone living a comfortable life in the politically-correct 21st century. John is a slave. His white, upper-class mother was sold by her own father, when he found her intimately involved with a British lieutenant. John, the child that came of this union, was therefore born into slavery.

Despite all the terrible treatment to which John was subjected, he is a paragon of virtue in his struggle to find full acceptance and to become independent of his owner. He refuses to own a slave himself to help him farm. He is almost unbelievably honourable. His main antagonist, the man who has owned and raised him almost like a son, is a representative character of the time. Jacob Barlow, who branded John as property in a fit of anger, has qualities that make him more complex.

In this historical fiction there are despicable villains, and there are fair damsels in distress, who are rescued. The plot is exciting and moves along rapidly, keeping the reader fully engaged. Setting and characters’ inner thoughts are rarely emphasized in the drama, which would make for great theatre. This is no surprise, as Budd is primarily a playwright.

A thoroughly-researched novel, A New Dawn Rising is self-published and a first effort of which the author can be genuinely proud. There is sexual content which might offend some people, however readers will surely enjoy this intriguing book and wait for more novels from Budd.

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Author/PlaywrightPatricia Marie Budd