This unique three-part novel assumes that, regardless of what Americans learn in school, the Southeast was not a barren wilderness when the English arrived at Jamestown. It was full of Native Americans , other Europeans, and Africans who were there for various reasons. Based on extensive research into the racial mixing that occurred in the early years of southeastern settlement, this provocative multi-generational story shows that these people did not simply vanish, but that many were absorbed into the new communities that gradually formed throughout the southeast, becoming “white” whenever their complexions allowed. The inability to accept their true heritages illustrates the high price many of these people paid for their way of life.
Diego Martin arrives in 1567 in the American Southeast—the region the Spaniards call La Florida—as a hog drover with a Spanish exploring party. The leader of the expedition turns against him and abandons him to the wilderness, where friendly natives rescue him.
Daniel Hunter, a Quaker from Philadelphia, sets up a school among these “disadvantaged” mountain people and falls in love with a Martin daughter.
Later, Daniel’s descendants are living in the same town, though with little awareness of their ancestral past. The Martin family has split in two, the merchants in town denying any relationship to their racially mixed cousins on Mulatto Bald. A young woman from town, Galicia, falls in love with a young man from the bald, Will, not realizing that he is her cousin. They marry, have a daughter, and move to a new industrial center, becoming prominent citizens. When Will’s son from a teenage liaison appears at his door, he invites him in, unwittingly setting the stage for a forbidden love between his unacknowledged son and his cherished daughter, neither of whom realizes that they are half-siblings.
This is a novel you will not be able to put down without wondering “Where will it take me next?”