I don’t usually like historical fiction, but I love this book:
The novel takes place in Boston around the time of the revolutionary war and is narrated by the clever and eloquent Octavian, the son of the witty and beautiful African princess, Cassiopeia. He and his mother live in the Novanglian College of Lucidity, a house full of philosophers and scientists, where Octavian receives a classical education which includes, music, Latin, and French. Eventually he learns that he and his mother are actually the property of the head of the college, slaves that are being used in an experiment to test whether or not whites are superior to blacks.
After Cassiopeia turns down the romantic advances of a young Englishman everything starts to go downhill for Octavian and his mother. The college loses it’s monetary benefactor, and the man put in charge of Octavian and Cassiopeia is both abusive and attempting to bias the study to “prove” Africans are inferior. Meanwhile the political unrest in Boston is leading to chaos and violence which eventually seeps into the Novanglian College of Lucidity.
The story is dark and twisted, and is similar to a Gothic Novel, and the characters are fascinating. It’s also unique in that it depicts slavery in the North, during the 1700s (most books about slavery focus on Southern plantations during the 1800s) and looks closely at scientific racism.
Oh, and you’ll definitely want to read this book with a dictionary on hand because Octavian has a very expansive vocabulary.
I think someone submitted this last Fiction Week, but it’s worth posting again!