This book was a pleasant surprise that I stumbled upon at the bookstore. It is an early book by Lawrence Hill (1997). Like his other books it deals with blacks in North America and, in particular, slavery.
This book tells the story of 5 generations of Langston Cane's. While it travels back and forth in time, it is really told from the perspective of Langston Cane V who is an out of work writer that decides to delve into his family's history. The search takes him from his home in Oakville Ontario to Baltimore where both his grandfather and great grandfather served as pastors in a local church. There he meets up with his aunt Mill who has been estranged from his father for decades. She provides him with boxes of documents that help him in his search.
In particular we learn of his great great grandfather's escape from slavery into Canada, his building a family in Oakville, his need to leave in a hurry and his joining John Brown in his attack on Harper's Ferry.
We also learn about his great grandfather's return to Baltimore and how he becomes a minister as well as his grandfather's courtship, wartime experiences, marriage and return to Oakville. Finally we learn about his father's study to become a doctor and experiences with racism in Canada.
Most of the narrative is revealed in reverse chronological order which from my perspective made it all the more interesting to piece together.
I enjoyed both the story and the characters that the author developed so well. I really recommend this book.