The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

The Book of Negroes was the name of a British military ledger which allowed some 3,000 Black Loyalists to leave New York for a new home in Nova Scotia. Among them was an extraordinary African woman who, at the age of ll, had been captured from her home in West Africa, force-marched for three months onto a slave ship and sold in South Carolina into a life of utter slavery, from which she made some remarkable and thrilling escapes.

This book is her story. It begins in l745 in a small village near Sierra Leone and winds up in London, where the heroine so stuns the abolitionists, including William Wilberforce, that she eventually meets the King and Queen who by this time know all about her.

The charm of the story – for it is truly a remarkable read – is the character of the heroine, Aminata Diallo, and the people who love her and rescue her along the way. Her courage and nerve are undeniable but so is her quality of caring, in the midst of ferocious danger, and this is what attracts people to her, whether in Charleston, New York, Sierra Leone, or London.

Lawrence Hill is a Canadian novelist, living in Burlington,Ontario. He has a light,but compelling touch, when writing about blacks in this country and elsewhere. With this book he has brought off a masterpiece.

Review by Anne McDougall