Rinaldi, Ann. Taking Liberty

Rinaldi, Ann. Taking Liberty – Book Review

Michele Winship

Simon & Schuster. 272p. c2002. 0-689-85187-1. $16.95. JS*

Oney Judge was born a slave and spent 24 years of her life serving the family of George Washington, until she ran away to New Hampshire where she lived the rest of her life in freedom. Rinaldi’s fictionalized account of her early life takes us to the slave quarters of Mount Vernon, Virginia, in 1775, where Oney narrates her own story. We follow her into the house where she becomes the favorite servant of Martha Washington at the expense of her relationship to her own mother. We sympathize with Oney as she struggles with the decision to leave a life of comfort with the family who has treated her so well for an unknown life as a free American. Dialect, customs, and relationships reveal slave culture through the eyes of an individual who learns how to bridge two cultures. The Revolutionary War and later historical events are chronicled through letters and conversations as the Washington family moves from Virginia to New York to Pennsylvania, where Oney connects with the abolitionist Absalom Jones. Rinaldi includes the actual historical account of Oney Judge’s escape and later life, notes on the other historical figures, and several of Washington’s writings on slavery. Michele Winship, Asst. Prof., Capital Univ., Columbus, OH

COPYRIGHT 2002 Kliatt

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group