*Based on others’ comments, I preface this review by stating: do not view the 1860s through rose-colored glasses. The violence depicted by the author was an everyday reality. Though hard to read at times, there are no explicit details. It is a simple statement of fact. That being said, I would recommend this for mature audiences only.*
The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock follows the journey of a man’s rise from slavery to Comanche warrior. Left for dead, Persimmon Wilson travels across state lines to rescue the woman he loves from the clutches of a horrid man, a man he’d rather see dead than alive. With the Civil War at his heels, Persy traverses a hostile frontier accompanied by two unlikely companions. As tragedy swirls around him, he loses the will to live and submits to his fate. The Comanche warriors, however, interpret his indifference as courage and welcome him as one of their own, training him in their way of life. In the end, Persimmon Wilson realizes death will not be cheated, and love doesn’t always win.
The vivid imagery elicited by Peacock’s prose never sugar-coats the truth of human degradation. She proves not all endings are happy, depicting human nature at its worst. Her characters are multi-dimensional and paint a harsh reality of survival across an untamed wilderness. Despite Persy’s escape from slavery, he’s thrust into an Indian world riddled with the same level (if not more) of violence. The only difference now, he’s executing the punishment. This psychological aspect deserves literary analysis.
Peacock provides the proper amount of tension with one exception. The story’s seamless flow stumbles with Persy’s life among the Comanches. At this point, too much repetitive action lulls the story’s tension when it should be at its highest. On a positive note, her utilization of period dialect gives credence and authenticity to the read. However, those offended by specific language should seek a gentler version of historical fiction. The author doesn’t hold punches. But then again, neither does reality.