aella_irene: (peace love understanding and chocolate)
[personal profile] aella_irene

I feel that I should start this off by saying that I know very little about racial politics in America, especially racial politics of the era covered in the Benjamin January books. In school we did the British slave trade in history, and Martin Luther King in RE, and nothing in between. (Except for those of us who'd read Gone With the Wind, which is probably very biased). So, if you think I'm being offensive, please tell me. I don't mean to be.

The Benjamin January books are set in New Orleans, and Louisiana (mostly), in the 1840s. Benjamin January, a former slave (the man who bought Ben, his mother, and his sister when Ben was about 8 set them all free) has returned to New Orleans, unable to stay in Paris, where he had been working as a musician, and sometime doctor, after the death of his wife. The books manage to combine interesting mysteries with an intriguing cast of characters- Ben, his friend Hannibal Sefton, his mother, Livia, his full sister, Olympe, his half-sister, Dominique, and his friend Rose Vitrac, and the people who surround them are all layered, and most of them have hidden depths. Two of my favourites (apart from Ben and Rose) are Hannibal Sefton, an Anglo-Irish fiddler with consumption, obviously from a wealthy, noble background, who lives above brothels, pawning everything he owns apart from his violin, and Abishag Shaw, a Lieutenant in the New Orleans City Guard, a Kentuckian, a stranger in a strange land, distrusted and disliked by most, who nonetheless speaks to Ben as an equal, (at least, when he can). Both of them have layers, and intriguingly hinted at backstory- Hannibal's family had a mansion in County Mayo, and he attended Oxford, Shaw had a sister who died young, and that is, honestly, all I need to make me love a character.

In conclusion, go read these books. Now.
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