Diane C. McPhail
in conversation with Jane Smiley
discussing the writing life and her novel,
The Abolitionist’s Daughter
William Turner Gallery
Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Avenue,
Santa Monica, CA 90404
This event is part of our Newer Voices Series.
General Admission tickets are complimentary, but we encourage you to support these newer authors and purchase their books.
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$28 Reserved Seat + Book PURCHASE BOOK HERE
Diane C. McPhail is an artist, writer, and minister. A graduate of Ole Miss, Duke Writers, University of Iowa Distance, and the Yale Writers’ Conference, she is a member of NC Writers Network and the Historical Novel Society. The Abolitionist’s Daughter is McPhail’s major debut novel. She lives in Highlands, North Carolina with her husband and dog.
Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres,which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and most recently, Golden Age, Some Luckand Early Warning, the volumes of The Last Hundred Years trilogy. She is also the author of five works of nonfiction and a series of books for young adults. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has also received the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She has appeared several time at Live Talks Los Angeles, most recently to interview Charmaine Craig for her novel, Miss Burma and Sean Penn for his debut novel, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.
In her sweeping debut, Diane C. McPhail offers a powerful, profoundly emotional novel that explores a little-known aspect of Civil War history—Southern Abolitionists—and the timeless struggle to do right even amidst bitter conflict.
On a Mississippi morning in 1859, Emily Matthews begs her father to save a slave, Nathan, about to be auctioned away from his family. Judge Matthews is an abolitionist who runs an illegal school for his slaves, hoping to eventually set them free. One, a woman named Ginny, has become Emily’s companion and often her conscience—and understands all too well the hazards an educated slave must face. Yet even Ginny could not predict the tangled, tragic string of events set in motion as Nathan’s family arrives at the Matthews farm.
A young doctor, Charles Slate, tends to injured Nathan and begins to court Emily, finally persuading her to become his wife. But their union is disrupted by a fatal clash and a lie that will tear two families apart. As Civil War erupts, Emily, Ginny, and Emily’s stoic mother-in-law, Adeline, each face devastating losses. Emily—sheltered all her life—is especially unprepared for the hardships to come. Struggling to survive in this raw, shifting new world, Emily will discover untapped inner strength, an unlikely love, and the courage to confront deep, painful truths.
In the tradition of Cold Mountain, The Abolitionist’s Daughter eschews stereotypes of the Civil War South, instead weaving an intricate and unforgettable story of survival, loyalty, hope, and redemption.