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Historical Fiction Review 

Behold, This Dreamer
by Charlotte Miller
NewSouth Books, 2000
ISBN: 1-58838-002-5
Behold, This Dreamer by Charlotte Miller is told from the omniscient viewpoint. So every time the reader begins to sympathize with one character, the thoughts of another character are revealed. The saga covers two generations of tenant farmers and landowners in Alabama and Georgia in the 1920's. What a story! Fantastic! It is reminiscient of Gone With the Wind.

From poor beginnings, but from parents who dearly love him and each other, the "dreamer" (Janson Sanders), begins life as a half breed. His father is a poor farmer and his mother is a native American.  

When Janson's father dies of a heart attack, after a vicious and deliberately set burning of his cotton field, Janson's mother dies of a broken heart. The boy is just a teenager when he must set off on his own to make his way in the world.

Janson is so hungry that he intends to steal food from a plantation house. The black maid catches him and eventually befriends him. He stays at the plantation to work and saves every dollar to try to recapture his dream of returning to the land his parents once owned. 

While at the plantation, he meets and falls in love with the only daughter of the powerful and cruel owner. The two young people must court in secret. Of her three brothers, one is even more vicious than his father.

Racial issues, discrimination, hate, jealousy, physical abuse, and cheating are swirling around the loving relationships of the main characters from two generations.  It is one of those sagas that will keep the reader reading and when the words of the story are complete, the memories of the very real characters remain on the reader's mind. Their personalities are so well developed that the characters become real.

The author is enormously talented! Miller weaves several subplots and personalities into the saga. Of course, it is the growth and changes apparent in Janson Sanders that are so well detailed that the reader dreams along with him. As he grows, Janson is subjected to brutal prejudice. But he never lets his dreams die. This is one author whose name will be on the top of readers' lists for a long time! Bravo! 

Maris Cato
Southern Scribe Reviews

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