Archives for Spring Valley Race Riot

Book review: The Knife with the Ivory Handle

A black man takes shelter in a train carriage amongst the animals. He has been shot and has no tongue. Two children are travelling from a Brooklyn orphanage to Illinois to start a new life on a farm. All three are on the same train. And so begins The Knife with the Ivory Handle, a lyrical tale by Cynthia Bruchman of Illinois in 1900 which knits together the stories of Annette and Jonathan, Casper and priest Father Kelly. It is clear from the first chapter that the author has intimate knowledge of this period in history. The Brooklyn orphanage is a real place on the page – the nuns, daily routine and quiet corridors – as is St Bede’s Abbey later in the book. The Spring Valley Race Riot of 1903 did happen, and the locations from Bureau, LaSalle and Kane Counties are real places. Cynthia Bruchman [below] writes with confidence, placing her story and characters in a setting she researched for her Masters degree. But do not think I mean that the book is full of unnecessary historical detail, the research is not a heavy presence but colours the story of Annette, Jonathan, Casper and Father Kelly. It is the
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Categories: Book Love.