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Summary and book reviews of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

by Sarah Bird

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird X
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2018, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2020, 544 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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About this Book

Book Summary

The compelling, hidden story of Cathy Williams, a former slave and the only woman to ever serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

"Here's the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of queen and my mama never let me forget it."

Though born into bondage on a "miserable tobacco farm" in Little Dixie, Missouri, Cathy Williams was never allowed to considered herself a slave. According to her mother, she was a captive, bound by her noble warrior blood to escape the enemy. Her means of deliverance is Union general Phillip Henry "Smash 'em Up" Sheridan, the outcast of West Point who takes the rawboned, prideful young woman into service. At war's end, having tasted freedom, Cathy refuses to return to servitude and makes the monumental decision to disguise herself as a man and join the Army's legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

Alone now in the ultimate man's world, Cathy must fight not only for her survival and freedom, but she vows to never give up on finding her mother, her little sister, and the love of the only man strong and noble enough to win her heart. Inspired by the stunning, true story of Private Williams, this American heroine comes to vivid life in a sweeping and magnificent tale about one woman's fight for respect and independence.

Christina Baker Kline says Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is "an epic page-turner" and "unforgettable."

Chapter 1

Here's the first thing you need to know about Miss Cathy Williams: I am the daughter of a daughter of a queen and my mama never let me forget it. That's right. Royal blood runs purple through my veins. And I am talking real Africa blood. Not that tea-water queens over in England have to make do with. My royal blood comes from my grandmother, my Iyaiya, as we called her in Fon, our secret Africa language. And don't go picturing one of them sweet old grannies like you got nowadays with linty lemon drops tucked into her apron pocket for the grandkids. No, she had possum teeth, filed to points so, if need be, she could rip an enemy's throat out, for my grandmother was one of the Leopard King's six thousand warrior-wives, what the French called les Amazones.

The second thing you better get straight about Miss Cathy Williams is that, even though I had the misfortune to be born in Missouri nearly fifty years ago, somewhere in the vicinity of 1840 to 1844, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. "Royal blood runs purple through my veins. And I am talking real Africa blood. Not that tea-water queens over in England have to make due with. My royal blood comes from my grandmother, my Iyaiya, as we call her in For, our secret Africa language." (3) Discuss Cathy Williams' lineage and how she sees herself through the lens of her family's history and culture. Do you or could you imagine carrying such a sense of self possession or having such a destiny to chase?
  2. "Burn every grain of Rebel wheat and every kernel of Rebel corn! Burn it to the ground! I want the crows flying overhead to have to carry their own rations!" (5) This is one visceral, violent snapshot of the Civil War and the "total war" style of fighting brought to ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Cathy's fictionalized story makes you cheer her bravado and guts, melt at her tenderness, and embrace her sisterhood. Her double life is its own message about challenging standards and the capacity of women to do men's work and the importance of intimacy... If her life – and Bird's novel – have any lingering message it is that women push their way into exceptionalism by their own guile and guts and desire. They dismiss boundaries and barriers and people telling them you can't...continued

Full Review (787 words).

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(Reviewed by Valerie Morales).

Media Reviews

National Book Review
Bird conveys with epic sweep how Williams’s origins as the granddaughter of an African queen buttressed her strength and verve, whether on the frontlines fighting for westward expansion or, more personally, in the joys and heartbreak of life as an iconoclastic, irrepressible American hero.

Kirkus Reviews
Rapturously imagined and shamelessly entertaining

Booklist
Bird’s meaty epic provides abundant, intimate details about Cathy’s life as a Buffalo Soldier: her patrols on the western frontier; the racism of her unit’s white commanding officer; and the harassment she endures from her fellow soldiers, who find her self-protective modesty unnatural. She’s also secretly attracted to her fair-minded sergeant. 'If you don’t push, you never move ahead,' she notes, determining never to be unfree again. An admiring novel about a groundbreaking, mentally tough woman.

Library Journal
Bird crafts a number of clever scenarios that build tension around Cathy's disguise as a man, creating a not-to-be-missed read for fans of historical military fiction and strong female protagonists.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Bird's fast-paced, action-packed story is a bittersweet one - grand love and legacy ultimately eluded Williams - but this fearless, often heartbreaking account sheds a welcome light on an extraordinary American warrior.

Reader Reviews

Veronica Earley

Trailblazing Woman
I started this book and could not put it down. The writing is so amazing and the descriptions keep you completely absorbed in the story. You actually feel that the writer is Cathy Williams and that you right there with her. Amazing story. Anyone ...   Read More

M Jones

Missed Oportunity
I would not have finished this book except I am in a book club and I wanted to be able to discuss it with the group. I did not feel it was adequately researched for a historical fiction book. The author made Cathy out to be a weak woman by having her...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Black Women's Bravery During the Civil War

Cathy WilliamsHistorian Shelby Foote called the Civil War, "the crossroads of our being." It defined humanity and the principles that govern American morality. With freedom as the one virtue worth fighting for, it is no wonder that women of color chose to walk the tightrope of danger and secrecy and participate in the war. Cathy Williams – a real-life ex-slave-turned-soldier and central character in Sarah Bird's Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen – was one of many. Three other heroes are explored below.

Harriet TubmanHarriet Tubman was a scout for the Union Army. In 1861, she volunteered under General Benjamin Butler, the only general who was a person of color. On June 2, 1863 she guided a troop of 150 Black soldiers from the Second South Carolina ...

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