The year is 1830 and Jamie Pyke, a celebrated silversmith and notorious ladies’ man, is keeping a deadly secret. Passing as a wealthy white aristocrat in Philadelphian society, Jamie is now living a life he could never have imagined years before when he was a runaway slave, son of a southern black slave and her master. But Jamie’s carefully constructed world is threatened when he discovers that his married socialite lover, Caroline, is pregnant and his beloved servant Pan, to whose father Jamie owes his own freedom, has been captured and sold into slavery in the South.
Fleeing the consequences of his deceptions, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation to save Pan from the life he himself barely escaped as a boy. With the help of a fearless slave, Sukey, who has taken the terrified young boy under her wing, Jamie navigates their way, racing against time and their ruthless pursuers through the Virginia backwoods, the Underground Railroad, and the treacherous Great Dismal Swamp.
"There is no shame in who I am," he said. "There is only shame in how I came to be, and that is not my burden to carry."
It would be difficult for any book to reach the standard set by The Kitchen House, but Glory Over Everything comes close. Entirely different to its predecessor, Glory Over Everything is nevertheless an incredible story.
While I don’t envy Jamie his history, he could certainly learn something from Robert. Churlish and immature at times, Jamie is only happy when everyone is catering to his whims. He is creative and talented but makes a lot of dumb choices – it appears he has been able to get away with living his life in this way more due to the obliviousness (or stupidity) of others, rather than any cunning of his own. Where Robert embraces both sides of himself, Jamie is driven by fear and disgust, often pushing him in the wrong direction. He often laments that he only wants to find someone who will love him despite knowing his secret, but this seems impossible considering he tells no one and can’t accept this part of him, either.
I appreciated Pan’s perspective, especially regarding Jamie;
stranger, teacher, mentor, father figure, saviour, coward, villain
– it covers the entire spectrum. Though Pan has been through a lot in his short life, he still assumes things will work out. His naive and inquisitive nature is inspiring, even if it can be trying at times. It would be interesting to see what he ends up doing with his life.
I could have read an entire book devoted to Sukey. The brief recounting of everything she experiences after being taken from Tall Oaks was not enough for me. Sukey has lived three lives to everyone else’s one, and her chapters were far too short to relay this life experience. I’m so happy for the small moments of happiness and kindness she encounters, for they are in the vast minority.
Grissom writes incredibly captivating stories, and though another book isn’t planned in this quasi-series, I’ll remain hopeful that she decides to tell more of these characters’ stories. For example, the girls’ school in Williamsburg is just begging to have its story told…
A strong start to 2022; Glory Over Everything has made me optimistic for what’s to come.