This powerful novel tells the story of Hinachuba Lucia, a Native American wise woman caught in the rapidly changing world of the early colonial South. With compelling drama and historical accuracy, Apalachee portrays the decimation of the Indian mission culture of Spanish Florida by English Carolina during Queen Anne’s war at the beginning of the eighteenth century and also portrays the little-known institution of Indian slavery in colonial America. The novel recounts the beginnings of the colony of South Carolina and the struggle between the colonists and the Indians, who were at first trading partners―bartering deerskins and Indian slaves for guns and cloth―and then enemies in the Yamasee War of 1715.
When the novel opens, Spanish missionaries have settled in the Apalachee homeland on what is now the eastern Florida panhandle, ravaging the native population with disease and altering its culture with Christianity. Despite these changes, the Apalachees maintain an uneasy coexistence with the friars.
Everything changes when English soldiers and their Indian allies from the colony of Carolina invade Spanish Florida. After being driven from her Apalachee homeland by the English, Lucia is captured by Creek Indians and sold into slavery in Carolina, where she becomes a house slave at Fairmeadow, a turpentine plantation near Charles Town. Her beloved husband, Carlos, is left behind, free but helpless to get Lucia back.
Swept by intricate and inexorable currents, Lucia’s fate is interwoven with those of Juan de Villalva, a Spanish mission priest, and Isaac Bull, an Englishman in search of fortune in the New World. As the three lives unfold, the reader is drawn into a morally complex world where cultures meet and often clash.
Both major and minor characters come alive in Hudson’s hands, but none so memorably as the wise woman Lucia―beautiful, aristocratic, and strong. Informed by the author’s extensive research, Apalachee is an ambitious, compelling novel that tells us as much about the ethnic and social diversity of the southern colonies as it does about the human heart.
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JOYCE ROCKWOOD HUDSON is the author of four other works of fiction, including the award-winning novel To Spoil the Sun, and two works of nonfiction, Looking for De Soto: A Search Through the South for the Spaniard's Trail (Georgia) and Natural Spirituality: Recovering the Wisdom Tradition in Christianity. She lives in Athens, Georgia.From Publishers Weekly:
Known mainly for her YA novels (To Spoil the Sun), Hudson turns to adult fiction in this sweeping novel of Native American life during the early colonial period. The focus is on the eponymous Apalachee people, the Native tribe that dominated northeastern Florida before the coming of Europeans. By the early 18th century, in which the story is set, the Apalachee have been greatly reduced by disease and other dislocations brought by the Spanish invaders. Besides sicknesses against which the Indians had no natural defenses, the Europeans also brought another influence, Christianity. The new religion has had devastating effects upon the tribe, undermining traditional culture and dividing family members against each other. Lucia, a member of the Hinachuba clan, has, like her mother and grandmother, resisted conversion to Christianity. Despite the fact that the old religious centers lie in ruins, they try to keep the old ways alive. A medicine man's's vision tells Lucia she is to be the White Sun Woman, the priestess of the tribe. Meanwhile, more pressing concerns intervene. Armed by the English, a neighboring Creek tribe stages raids on the Apalachee mission settlements. War between Spain and England looms, promising doom for the Apalachee caught in the middle. Lucia, now married to Carlos, a Christian convert groomed by Spanish priests to be the chief of the Apalachee, is captured and sold into slavery. Carlos's struggle to recover his wife, who is toiling at a turpentine plantation in the colony of Carolina, seems hopeless. Spanning the years from 1704 to 1715, this melancholy book chronicles multiple conflicts between Spanish and English, the details of plantation existence and the ultimate destruction of the Apalachee way of life. An historical note and extensive bibliography demonstrate the author's attempt at verisimilitude. Despite employing a somewhat romantic and elegiac tone, Hudson presents the Apalachee as real human characters and evokes their culture vividly. (Apr.)
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