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Book Review: "Red Clay, Running Waters"

by Leslie K. Simmons





One of the biggest reasons I read historical fiction is to look at the world through the eyes of historical figures. Leslie K. Simmons managed that fabulous, magical achievement in RED CLAY, RUNNING WATERS by immersing me into the world of John Ridge, a Cherokee born into a prominent Cherokee Nation family in 1802.


The story begins when 17-year-old John and a few of his fellow mission school students are offered scholarships at a school in Cornwall, CT. John goes to further his studies with the aim of strengthening his own country’s position when negotiating with the ever-encroaching American government.


One of the few bright spots of enduring the harsh winter, the strict Calvinist culture and the prejudice of his host country is when he meets and marries Sarah Bird Northup. As one of the first Native American-European American couples, the Ridges travel back to the Cherokee Nation where tensions mount as his people negotiate with the American government about borders and land rights.


The author does an exceptional job of helping me see through John’s eyes as he becomes disillusioned by the racist culture in America and rigid religion that’s a sharp contrast to the warmth of his home country. Every detail of this meticulously-researched book allowed me to feel his inner growth and increasing awareness about the quickly changing world around him. Though longer than most books, the pages flew by as I watched tragedy approach.

A truly remarkable book!


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THE FALCON, THE WOLF AND THE HUMMINGBIRD a historical novel


BLISS ROAD, a memoir


WINTER LIGHT, a novel


THE WIND THIEF, a novel


GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS, a resource for writers



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