Book Spotlight: Hostage of Lies by Dr. Maxine E. Thompson
The story is a vivid portrait of Reverend Godbolt’s family and his forebears. The family’s secrets set the stage for a profound and provocative debate about black identity and destiny in America’s past and present. We see the saga of Reverend Godbolt, who has always ruled his family with a steel glove, and who is questioning his faith, near the end of his life. A secret has kept him from truly trusting his wife and even loving one of his children.
We see his spirited daughter, Nefertiti, who harbors a secret of her own, which keeps her from being able to actualize as a woman. We have the love triangle of the two men who loved Nefertiti, Pharaoh Curry, her first lover, and Isaac Thorne, her first husband, who both are trying to win her back.
This situation is compounded by Nefertiti’s current interracial marriage. It was this last act of insurrection against the family’s mores which has ex-communicated Nefertiti from her insular family for the seven years preceding her father’s seventy-fifth birthday celebration. At the opening of the novel, Nefertiti has returned from Santa Monica, California to Shallow’s Corner, Michigan. In her return as the prodigal minister’s daughter, the scene is set, as past and present ghosts of hidden sins come home to roost.
Although the kernel of the story takes place from a Wednesday through a Sunday, the story is told out of sequence, in order to reflect the way that the memories of past regrets haunt the characters.
As the formerly owned chattel of white America, there seems to be a propensity among the characters in the novel to own people, places, things, (lucre). In one instance, this is exemplified where the character goes so far as to steal heir property from his brother. Throughout the Godbolt family’s struggle for upward mobility, there co-exists the denial of their violent ancestral history, fraught with lynchings, murder and fratricide. The family’s violence can be seen as a microcosm of the larger society, yet at the same time there is a kind of self-hatred turned inward, a social implosion of sorts, going on with the Godbolt family. The denial of their ancestral past reflects the denial of an entire nature of its historical past. That is, this country’s refusal, one hundred years later, to deal with the lingering effects of the cancer of slavery.
The title and the theme are intertwined. The characters, in their search for wholeness, whether through materialism, classism or religion, lose sight of the main issue. Just as they will carry nothing out of the world with them when they die, they can not own one another’s soul. They can only love one another freely. It is the ability to connect, therefore redeem, one another, which determines the success, or lack thereof, of the characters in the book.
In addition, through out the novel, there is an adoption search which operates on two levels as an allegory. The search of the Diaspora of Blacks for wholeness in America (in that they were torn from Mother Africa) is mirrored by the search of one of the characters for her family tree. The novel deals with the issue of adoption which often runs counter to African American culture due to the history of children being sold away from their mothers. At the same time, the struggles a mother faces who has given a child up for adoption faces, is universal.
Excerpt from Hostage of Lies by Dr. Maxine E. Thompson
Nefertiti Searches for Her Adopted Child
Nefertiti turned to the back of the Bible and found the family tree. From what she saw this was her father’s side of the family. Killsprettyenemy, the youngest son, had been Reverend’s father. Bryce had been Rev’s and Tiger’s paternal grandfather, and Theo was one of his older sons. She took her finger and traced the family tree. If Bryce was her father and Uncle Tiger’s grandfather, he would have been her great-grandfather. Shilo would have been her great-great grandfather. Samson would have been her great-great-great grandfather..
Nefertiti’s hands trembled and an electrical current coursed through her blood. It was too mind boggling to absorb all at once! This was a page from a piece of her unknown history. A piece of her ancestors.
Then Nefertiti began to dig some more. Underneath the bottom layer of the trunk was a quilt. Patterns of horses had been stitched on it. Nefertiti lifted the quilt in her hand, feeling herself tied to something valuable, something of the past. The material was so old some of the rotting threads began to fray in her hand.
She now knew the taste of victory the archaeologists from Ike’s Internet assignment must have felt when they discovered a fossil. This was even better. This letter was a fossil from her bloodline. Nefertiti returned to digging through the trunk. Finally, she found what she was looking for when a folded piece of paper fell out of the Bible. Nefertiti unfolded it.
She was thinking of the “great secret,” which Isaac had alluded to, and now here it was. It was just a piece of paper, but its power made her fall to her knees.
It was the original birth certificate for her little girl. The certificate did not name the father of the Negro baby girl. Because she was underage at the time, and the laws for statutory rape were more strictly enforced, Nefertiti remembered never naming the father. Yet Rev and them had known. During those days, the baby was called “illegitimate” and the father’s name was not put on the birth certificate if you were not married. Other than the first name, Desiree, her daughter had no name.
Nefertiti was surprised she did not cry anymore. She didn’t know what she felt. Still, the years came rushing back to her with a sharp jab. The “secret” she’d harbored all these years, until she sometimes didn’t even speak it in her most inward parts. And the horror of her choice began to sink in like an underground river.
Besides being her baby, this wasn’t just any baby she’d given away. This was a baby of African descent. Born in America. A baby with a legacy of children being sold away from their mothers. A baby with a history of an ancestor being beaten to death while her infant was still in the thick harbor of her womb. A baby who had a deep connection to her ancestors. She had to find Desiree, no matter what happened. Even if Desiree spit in her face. Nefertiti knew she had to try. She knew then that she was about to embark on the deepest journey of her life.
The words, “It’s like a curse on your family when you don’t know where your kinfolk is,” seared an indelible brand into her brain.
Meet the Author
Dr. Maxine E. Thompson is the owner of Black Butterfly Press, Maxine Thompson’s Literary Services and Thompson Literary Show, and Maxine Show. She hosts an Internet radio show on www.artisfirst.com. She is the author of novel, The Ebony Tree, Award-winning Hostage of Lies, A Place Called Home, The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sells, How to Publish, Market and Promote your Book Via Ebook Publishing, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, Anthology, SECRET LOVERS, (with novella, Second Chances,) and Summer of Salvation.
SECRET LOVERS made the Black Expression’s Book Club Bestselling list on 7-8-06 (after a 6-6-06 release date.) A new anthology, All in the Family, (her novella, Summer of Salvation) came out in April 2007). Another new anthology, Never Knew Love Like This Before (her novella, Katrina Blues,) was published in June 2007. It was #13 on Amazon’s top 100. Is now a Kindle choice and on their bestsellers list and has been on there many times as a multicultural and romance anthology.
Novel, Hostage of Lies, came out in December 2009 and was voted a Best Book on EDC Creations/Black Pearl Magazine.
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