Love and horror in the context of the slave trade.
Date:September 14, 2012
Love, horror, tenderness and absolute shame, in the context of the slave trade, drew me into the pages of the books of this series...so much so that I read all three of them in two days. How mankind can treat other people in such a way is an abiding question of mine. To see this subject treated in an historical novel helps us to experience not only the fact of the pain of the suffering of those taken into slavery, but to experience it, alongside the characters, for ourselves as well.
Swept into the midst of a desperate slave rebellion, Grace finds herself forced to confront both the tragedies of the slave trade in Africa, the complicity of her mother and other Africans, and her own unknowing contribution to the plight of her new companions. Stroms writing is vivid and irresistible. The pacing is excellent, and, like Grace, I found myself inexorably pulled along by the action swirling around me as I read.Some of the moments of high-drama seem a bit clichd, but that sense of no-turning-back choices and intense declarations lend the book a big-screen movie production feel; Id love to see this title appear on the big screen. Likewise, some of Stroms characters seem a bit too typecast. Graces mother, for example, is pure evil, willing to sacrifice her child without a moments thought for her own purposes. As a mother I found it unbelievable that there wasnt any conflict present in her choices, as there was in those of Joseph Winslow.The Call of Zulina can certainly be classified as Christian fiction, but Strom integrates considerations of faith carefully, mainly questioning how those who claim to know God can live in ways that sanctify cruelty. The faith of the Winslows house slave Mama Muco and its influence on Graces perspective also play some role in the storyline, but theres no clear presentation of the gospel.While there are some very slight hints at romance as Graces admiration for the powerful leader Cabeto grows, the novels forward momentum is carried by the search for freedom that unites Grace with the Africans imprisoned at Zulina. The blending of a diverse array of African cultures lends authenticity and additional depth to The Call of Zulina.Its exciting to read a well-penned novel set outside of the typically European and American settings predominant in Christian historical fiction.
Few books call so poignantly to that deep place within us as The Call of Zulina by Kay Marshall Strom. Even as the Scriptures tell us that "deep calls to deep," so do the convicting words of this epic tale call to the God-given conscience within us, that part of us that is stamped with the very image of God and that forbids us to love with anything less than our very lives.From the moment we first meet the lovely but naive Grace Winslow to the instant when we see that noble and selfless image of God rise up from deep within her, we find ourselves challenged to that same depth of commitment. This is more than an entertaining story, though it is that. But it is also a call to arms, a challenge to "fight the good fight" without compromise or lukewarm faith. The Call of Zulina is a call to believers everywhere to remember that there is no greater love than to lay down our life for our friends...and if need be, our enemies as well.
This is a good book. This is an interesting subject with Grace a daughter of a Black Princess and White slave trader but neither black or white. How Kay weaves the story its interesting and very captivating. I was crying at times with emotion and the book had me captivated. This is a moving book and deal in a real way about slavery and the way it was looked on. After reading books like this it just shows how bad slavery was and the whole slave trade and made me feel so sad for those people. There is alot of emotion and true courage in this book and I would recommend everyone read it. Its the type of story that needs to be read so we don't forget what did happen but at the same time make sure it never happens again. Thanks Kay for a wonderful thought provoking and emotional book cant wait for book 2.
I am so excited to see the variety of settings and plot lines in Christian fiction that I have been reading lately! "The Call of Zulina" is a perfect example of originality in writing. The author, Kay Marshall Strom, got the idea for some of the main characters when she was writing a biography of John Newton. She then developed this amazing story about Grace Winslow, the daughter of a white English sea captain and a black African princess. They are living in Africa, but Grace never really sees life outside their home (or compound). Consequently she has no concept of what is really going on around her, especially the fact that her father and mother run one of the largest slaving houses in the area. When she realizes that her parents are going to marry her off to a horrible man that she detests, just because he has good business holdings, she decides to run away. The only problem is she runs right into slavery of her own, imprisonment and then when her captors try and ransom her, she finds abandonment at the hands of her parents. She must decide which blood runs stronger in her veins, the English or the African. And she must come to terms with the fact that she will never be accepted by either side, especially her mother and father. When the slave revolt happens, where will she be?This story was so original that I absolutely couldn't assume or predict anything - I loved that! The hardest part of it for me as a mother of six was the sheer evilness of her own mother. Revenge runs so strongly in her veins that she doesn't hesitate to not only leave her daughter for dead, but she wants to personally make sure that she and any she cares about are all dead. I would say that is not realistic, except that it makes perfect sense in the context of her own upbringing and how her own father sacrificed her to a white man for his own advances.I am really looking forward to book #2 in this series. Great historical fiction in a new setting and with a new story!
The Call of Zulina by Kay Marshall Strom is book one of the Grace in Africa series. Living in Africa in 1787, Grace Winslow has been raised with all of the finer things in life; education, beautiful clothing, and a luxurious home, but she's lacking the one thing that matters most: freedom. The daughter of an African princess and white slave trader, she's trapped between two worlds. In an attempt to escape from betrothal to a repugnant man, she flees the family compound only to be captured as used as a pawn between the tribes fighting for their freedom and her parents desire for wealth and power. Grace's growth throughout the story is truly amazing. She starts out as a young, naive woman convinced that just around the corner is someone who can rescue her, but after witnessing and experiencing unimaginable violence, she starts to become a strong, spirited woman of God. Strom perfectly renders the utter hopelessness of the slaves in the fortress of Zulina. There is no way out and no place to go if they could escape. The cover of the book is misleading as it looks like a standard historical romance, but this book is anything but with its unflinching depiction of slavery and the characters' fight for hope. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.
Call of Zulina dives head first into a time and place few of us know much about, and fewer care to confront. The story gets its inspiration from a place known as Goree Island in the country of Senegal in West Africa, a hub of the slave trade to Britain and America in the late 1700s. Millions of men, women, and children languished there in chains until enough salable souls collected to fill a slave ship. The conditions werent suitable for dogs, let alone human beings.In Strom's fictionalized story, young Grace Winslow lives in naive luxury in the shadow of Zulina, the slave fortress owned by her British father and her African princess mother. Her parents marriage of convenience is loveless and abusive, a lifestyle that Grace is determined not to repeat in spite of her fathers wishes that she marry a wealthy but boorish Englishman. Graces bi-racial state is another enigma. Where and with whom does Grace belong? Her escape from the family compound leads her on the journey to answer that question. But in the process, she discovers much more than she had expectedor wantedto know.The plot is fast-paced and, at times, the book was hard to put down. Strom has an uncanny way of making a setting come alive with her wonderful, imaginative descriptions. I could easily feel the blast of hot wind that gusted in the faraway voices of the ntumpanethe talking drums. Occasionally, I fumbled with some head hopping within a scene or chapter, but that certainly didnt deter me from wanting to know what would happen to Grace, and how she would escape the dismal dungeon of Zulina. Although the story addresses some horrific human indignities and cruelties, Strom writes so graciously and passionately that one feels more informed and edified than ashamed of being white. The message of redemption weaves its way throughout the storyline as her characters show us hope in the midst of hopelessnessand virtue that can rise above evil.
As the book opens the reader immediately gets caught up in the tension apparent in the family - an uneasy combination of the ethnic and cultural differences. Grace is ripped from her life of privilege and forced to see the reality of her family's business. In that time of trial she comes to see that she can be the person God made her to be - not tainted by the evil ways of her parents. A great book; can't wait for more.