Friday, June 20, 2014

#Excerpt from HOLDERBY'S LANDING by J. D. Ferguson #Historical #Fiction #BookClub

at 11:30 AM
The banks of the Ohio River lay back like a great step from the sweeping green-brown water. Flat for a hundred yards, the rise forms a field that during winter rains is three feet under brown flood, but in this warm spring supports a field of fresh corn stalks almost as high as the water had been but a short time before. On the eastern edge of corn and atop yet another bank, River Road meanders between huge trees and in perfect sync with the twists and turns of the mighty water. Beyond the elevated road the field broadens to half a mile and separates two bald narrow hillocks that stand like guideposts. Atop the southernmost hill, and the taller of the two, a white two-story clapboard house faces the river. A collection of out-buildings, all white and of various sizes, run the ridgeline behind and culminate in the larger body of a huge barn, drab weather-beaten grey against the deep blue morning sky. The hill, with so steep a drop on the river side, gradually declines to the rear. The drive to the house runs from River Road along the base of the hill to the rear of the formation, there it crosses a mountain stream fed by hillside runoff during wetter periods, and always by the spring at its head which originally gave it birth.
Primus Rose notes it all from his open carriage. He muses silently, as he most always does upon entering these grounds, how the location of the Cross home so typifies the owner. Commanding the river and flat land surround, the house proper can be approached only from the rear, through the defensive positions of out-buildings, fences, corrals, and dogs. The front of the house stares with dark glassy eyes into the Ohio Territory across the expanse of roiling river, and speaks to all who view it from the river or the road, there is little welcome here, but what there may be is through the back door.
The carriage, a kindness provided by his flock, albeit at his own manipulation, crosses the sturdy wooden bridge with a rattle of planking, and proceeds up the grade with a fresh persistence from the two-horse team. Primus enjoys the ride to the Cross house. Always has. It suits him for some odd reason. The fact that the trip ends by sitting in the same room with Philby Cross would dampen the enjoyment from most outings, and most people, but it has little impact on Right Reverend Primus Rose nor on his delight in the ride.
From beneath the wide, flat brim of his black beaver hat – an affectation of his own design similar to the Boss-of-the-Plains but with higher and sharper crown – deep violet eyes stare at the passing trees with a fixed attention. As the calash exits the trees, bright sunlight flashes, exaggerating in the milk white face the almost permanent squint held by his eyes. His sensual, full and feminine lips crease into a wan smile at the sight of Cross’s guard dogs growling in menace at the approaching buggy. He knows from experience that the dogs will growl and snarl, and upon his alighting from the carriage, will plant themselves immediately at his heels, but will not bite without threat being evident. If you pay them no mind, and move as if you belong here, they will warily allow your movement to the back door. With a jerk the coach stops, and Primus does just that.

When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. 

Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. The process is on-going and ever dynamic. Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture. One’s ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life’s story, and as singular as snowflakes. This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby’s Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. Holderby’s Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
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