Taylor, Mildred D. The Land. Phyllis Fogelman, 2001. ISBN 0-8037-1950-7. $17.99. 384 pp. * 7+ FI Reviewed by Chris Crowe The Land, Taylor’s first novel since The Well (1995), is the book Taylor fans have long awaited-the prequel to all of the stories about the Logan family made famous in “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976)” Set in the decades immediately after the Civil War, the novel is narrated by Paul Edward Logan, son of Edward Logan, a white plantation owner in Georgia and one of his slave women, Deborah. After being raised in a loving, secure environment, Paul Edward learns that his comfortable position with his white father cannot last. Though he loves his father and his white brothers, circumstances force him to run away from his family and, with his good friend Mitchell Thomas, strike out on his own. He eventually ends up in Mississippi where, after much struggle, he manages to buy land, the same land that, within two generations, will provide a home for Cassie Logan and her family. Told in a remarkably rich, sincere style, this is Taylor’s best novel yet. The same family values and themes that dominate Taylor’s other novels dominate this one. After reading Paul Edward’s story, it’s easy to see why the future Logans act and believe as they do. As she does in her other stories, Taylor shows racism in all its painful and ugly variations, but the ugliness is balanced by love, friendship, loyalty, and compassion. Paul Edward and the other victims of racism in the novel remain noble and likeable despite the many struggles they endure. The Land will inspire its readers.
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