Book Reviews

Truevine: An Extraordinary True Story of Two Brothers and a Mother's Love by Beth Macy

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 432 Pages.

Published: 22 February 2018 by Pan

Edition: Main Market

ISBN: 9781447278092

EAN: 9781447278092

In Truevine, Virginia, in 1899 everyone the Muse brothers knew was either a former slave, or a child or grandchild of slaves.

George and Willie Muse were just six and nine years old, but they worked the fields from dawn to dark. Until a white man offered them candy and stole them away to become circus freaks. For the next twenty-eight years, their distraught mother struggled to get them back. But were they really kidnapped? And how did their mother, a barely literate black woman in the segregated South, manage to bring them home? And why, after coming home, would they want to go back to the circus?

In Truevine, bestselling author Beth Macy reveals for the first time what really happened to the Muse brothers. It is an unforgettable story of cruelty and exploitation, but also of loyalty, determination and love.


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Interesting but Muddled

This is a

story about George & Willie living in Virginia in the early 20th

century. The boys are albino black children taken from their homes to be

exploited in the world of freak shows and circuses.

The first thing I

should mention is that parts of this make for quite distressing

reading. Humans are not always kind to one another and the treatment of

so called "freaks" was appalling & I found it quite emotional. The

language used in this book does include quotes from people and

literature of the time so is not always politically correct and quite

abhorent to our modern ears. I have no objection to such quotes - if you

are telling a story like this then you need to quote people of the time

& not wrap it up. I should also point out that this is an American

book so some of the phraseology is unusual. I found the use of the word

"handicapped" in a modern sense quite difficult as this derisory term

has mostly left British language but not so in America.

The book

itself is very general and quite disjointed. If you actually take the

information that is solely about George and Willie you'd get just a few

chapters. The bulk of the book covers the social history of the time,

the attitudes to black people in the Southern states of USA and the

attitudes to disabled people.This is relevant to the lives of George and

Willie but covers quite intense detail. Had the boys come from weathy

white homes then they would not have been snatched and exploited in the

way that they were.

The telling of this story is quite muddled. The

author starts to follow one specific path and tends to wander off and

get sidetracked. It would have made sense to either follow the boys

story from beginning to end or follow the author's search for their

story in chronological order. I think the author has tried to follow the

stories but wanders off so much that it becoems difficult to tell

exactly where we are. One minute you are discussing their parentage and

the next being provided with details of how the town got its name

followed by comments from modern descendants.

I found this book very

interesting and was fascinated by the social history surrounding the

circuses and freak shows of the day. I would have preferred more

structure to the book which would have made it far easier to read and


I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

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