Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: Rainbow Plantation Blues

While it is well known that plantation owners in the South before the civil war considered their slaves as property and were wont to use female slaves sexually, here is a novel that brings alternative sexual relationships into the mix.

Jonathan Thomas, the son of one such Southern Gentleman returns home in 1850 from an Ivy League school in the North. His father is dying, and Jonathon is expected to marry and continue the prosperity his highly respected father so diligently acquired. Through discussion with his classmates at University, Jonathan has begun to question slavery and the concept that these are not people, but animals. Meanwhile, his mother has selected a bride for him, who she invites to their home. The young lady is impressed with Jonathan’s looks as well as his inheritance.

Jonathan, however, has no interest in her. While up North, he began to recognize his sexual interest – in other men. On his return to Rainbow Plantation, he sees Kumi - his young black playmate from his early years, – all grown up. He is immediately attracted to him. Jonathan is doubly frightened. Sodomy in the South is punishable by death, and sodomy with a black slave would be a scandal that his family could never overcome.

This book shows the reader many of the atrocities foisted on black human beings by the South’s “peculiar institution.” It also brings together distant family members, while covering much of the gender variant spectrum, with gay, lesbian, and transgender characters. While some of the dialogue seemed a bit off, the story as a whole is well done.

I liked it, and I recommend it to students of history as well as the GLBT community.

For more information about this release, visit the author's website, at http://www.robertlsheeley.com/.

- Dave Parker

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