Book Collection

By Marvin V Blake

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About the Books

“Why”, is an epic story, 1838 – 1863, chronicling the lives of two sisters, one white, the other black, both born in 1847, three days apart, on Virginia’s wealthy Rosewood Plantation.

The white sister is the child of Mr. And Mrs. Henry Billings, Master and Mistress of Rosewood, one of the most successful, richest cotton plantations in the state of Virginia.

The black girl is the issue of the mating of Henry Billings, The Master of the Rosewood Plantation, and one of his female black slaves.

While growing up together, one a slave the other her mistress, in the slave holding antebellum South, sharing many childhood experiences, the girls are forced to adhere to the harsh rules, and laws that separate white from black. Henry Billings, Master and Mistress of the plantation, hire a recent college graduate, Miss Eleanor Leary, a young progressive, Irish immigrant, to tutor their children, Rebecca and her brother, Jesse. Despite her fear of breaking the laws that prohibit the teaching of slaves to read and write, Eleanor, at Rebecca’s request, decides to include the black slave girl Mandy in their sessions.

A whole new world is opened for Mandy. Through the teachings and the eyes of the white teacher, Mandy slowly, gradually, discards her insidious, lifelong feelings of racial inferiority, and self-esteem.

“Why” examines three co-existing 19 th century American Cultures. The privileged world of the South’s antebellum slave holding, White Planter Society; The oppressed communities of the black slaves; and the nomadic, hunter-gatherer society of the plains Indians. The turbulent events of this time in American History, results in two sisters finding themselves living in, and experiencing the three cultures, and one sister is forced to choose between her life-long love for her sibling, or the love that develops between herand a Comanche Warrior.

Radio Interview about the book
WHY in The Writer's Cafe with Ms Marilyn Silverman

CBS Radio interview ("Why")

Reviews

Kat Kennedy
Kat Kennedy
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No matter how hard he tried to avoid making comparisons between the girls, his eyes and his mind... seemed to be inextricably drawn to their similarities.

This epic story follows the lives of half-sisters Rebecca Billings and the slave girl Mandy, born within weeks of each other on a Southern plantation fifteen years before the start of the Civil War. As they grow, the two girls are inseparable. Rebecca teaches Mandy how to read and write, skills that are illegal for slaves in their home state of Virginia. As it becomes evident that the South will face defeat, and the Billings fortune will be lost, the girls leave with their father to begin a new life in the West. However, fate intervenes when their westward-bound wagon train is attacked, and a Comanche tribe captures Rebecca and Mandy. Their time with the Comanche proves a very different experience for each girl, thrusting them into roles they would never have imagined.

Blake’s novel delves into the deeply disturbing aspects of slavery in the antebellum American South. There are graphic incidents of whippings, rapes, and cruelty, which are truly disturbing. The close relationship between the two main characters, Rebecca and Mandy, is an intriguing plot twist in the familiar story of slavery. The storyline’s reversal of fortune in the girls’ lives—Mandy’s experience in the Comanche camp affording her the freedom she has never known and Rebecca becoming the slave of a Comanche woman—is an unexpected psychological twist. The novel includes many surprising and, at times, disturbing plot twists that stay with the reader long after the book is finished. Though a lengthy read, it is one worth the time.
nana4
nana4
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June 5, 2015
Format: Paperback – Verified Purchase A beautifully written novel about the coming of age of two sisters during a time of extreme turmoil in American history. The sisters experience two seemingly diverse cultures that in reality are quite similar. This novel at times is heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. The author intertwines various aspects of differing cultures in a cohesive and descriptive manner (Southern plantation slavery and American Indian history. Great story - loved it!! [5 Stars]
Kindle Customer
Kindle Customer
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September 26, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition – Verified Purchase Excellent read!!! The book is a definite page turner filled with history, romance and suspense. What an ending!!! I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel. MUST READ!
Lira
Lira
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May 11, 2015
Format: Paperback – Verified Purchase The author does an excellent job of making the characters appear so real.
Ruth B.
Ruth B.
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August 24, 2015
Format: Paperback – Verified Purchase "WHY" was an intriguing reading selection about Antebellum Southern White slaves owner, African American slaves, and Native American Indians. Mr. Blake did an excellent job with in his research bringing these three cultures together for this fantastic novel! This is an excellent book from first page to the last page I highly recommend this book!!!!! Looking forward to author's next book!!!!!!
Mike
Mike
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November 16, 2017
Format: Paperback Fantastic historical fiction. the action never stops. I really enjoyed it.
Brenda S.
Brenda S.
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July 28, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition – Verified Purchase "WHY" is a must read for fans of historical fiction with a twist. The author does a great job showing us the lifestyles of three different cultures i.e.; the Antebellum Southern White aristocracy; the Black slave community and the Plains Indians. What a fantastic job!! I can't wait for the authors next book!!!! I highly recommend this book it's a page turning!
hizspoon
hizspoon
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August 28, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition – Verified Purchase"Why" is an excellent read that introduces 2 racially different sisters born on a plantation. Although their life status is quite opposite, this story takes us through their shared experiences and interactions as they experience life through 3 different cultures. [5 Stars] BedstuybookenzA-Z Book Club August 23, 2015 Format: Paperback – Verified Purchase WHY is a wonderfully researched story set in antebellum south. The story is intriguing and enlightening. It gives insight into the description and the intermingling of the African and Native American cultures during slavery. A must read!
Lynne
Lynne
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August 27, 2015
Format: Paperback – Verified Purchase Great read with surprising twists. Excellent storytelling. You will not be able to put it down. "Why" is a fantastic choice for any book club meeting; as the read invokes spirited discussions.
Anthony Avina
Anthony Avina
Pacific Book Review
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One of the best things about growing up is coming of age and deciding what kind of person you are going to be. As Cilla Black once said, “The nicest thing about coming of age is that I can do whatever I like.” Yet what if you grew up in an era when coming of age and becoming your own person was not a right given to you, simply because of the color of your skin? In author Marvin V. Blake’s novel Why, two sisters find themselves asking this question when they find themselves divided by color and the era they live in.

In this book, two sisters born to different mothers during the 1800s in Virginia, experience life differently as one is born into the rich white Plantation Owner’s rich society while the other is born into slavery. Defying her parents, the white sister invites her sister to be taught alongside her by the new Irish immigrant tutor her parents have hired. Soon the sister born into slavery begins to learn about pride in her ethnicity and self-esteem and sheds the years of self-loathing she felt. However, as the tumultuous times begin to come crashing down on the sisters, one sister must choose her love for her sister or her growing love for a young Comanche Indian man who is a warrior for his tribe.

A heartbreaking, beautifully written yet tragic story that carefully studies and examines the complex nature of the South in the mid 1800’s, author Marvin V. Blake has created a brilliant read that examines several important themes; from the horror that is slavery and racism to the division between our fellow man and the different ways in which people view the world at large. The characters draw the reader in immediately, highlighting the difference in culture between the characters and how so many horrors of that era occurred.

This is a novel for anyone who enjoys drama, historical fiction and complex examinations of human nature and the bonds that tie us to one another. As a fan of historical fiction, it was great to see the author’s deep dive into the era and write a story that felt real, no matter how tragic or painful at times the narrative became.

Overall this was a breathtaking journey that was both lengthy and emotional all at once. The story of these two sisters bonded by blood despite having two very different backgrounds and the weight of the world around them threatening to tear them apart, felt real and powerful all at once. Why by Marvin V. Blake is a must-read novel that will give readers a firm understanding of that era and the reason why racism still has a painful grip on our modern-day world. Be sure to grab your own copy today.
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“E. Pluribus Unum= “From Many…One”, is my second novel, and is the sequel to its’ predecessor, my first novel, “Why”.

“E. Pluribus Unum…(From Many, One)” is an epic story (1861-1876) chronicling the lives of two individuals. One a black man, Jason Ruth, born into a life of perpetual slavery; the other, a white woman, Rebecca Billings, the daughter of Henry Billings, Master of the Rosewood Plantation, born into a pampered life of privilege as a member of the Southern aristocracy. Two people—one black, the other white—whose preordained statuses in life were at diametrically opposite ends of the South’s Antebellum society.

Two people with absolutely nothing in common, yet two people whose lives were inexorably linked due to the lust of Rebecca’s father, Henry Billings, for his black slave, Ruth, Jason’s mother. Henry Billings coupling (white master with his black female slave), a common and socially accepted practice in the slave holding South, resulted in the birth of Mandy (Jason and Rebecca’s sister).

While Jason and Rebecca are not related by blood, Jason (who was born before his mother Ruth, caught the eye of the white “Massa”) and Rebecca each shared a deep and enduring love for his and her only surviving sibling, their common link, their sister Mandy. The novel tells of Rebecca’s life while raising her child of mixed-blood in the South during the Civil War and during Reconstruction. It tells of Jason’s life as a member of the Massachusetts 54 th Infantry Division and his service as a member of the United States Army’s 19 th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers).

The novel examines three coexisting 19 th century American Cultures: the recently defeated South’s response to the post-Civil War’s era of Reconstruction; the former black slaves who are attempting to adjust to life as freedmen, and the noble nomadic hunter-gatherer society of the Plains Indians fighting to defend and to maintain their way of life.

Radio interview (for the book E. Pluribus Unum)

Reviews

nana4
nana4
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Great Historical Fiction
May 22, 2019

Format: Hardcover Format: Paperback – Verified Purchase This engrossing historical fiction novel, depicts how people of varied cultural backgrounds were at times forced to interact with one another, and suffer the consequences while trying to maintain their traditions and values. The author has brought to life characters who must endure hardships in their quests for survival and happiness. Such as, the southern plantation owner's daughter, who rebuilt her life after tragedy; the slave, who’s born to suffer; the Indian tribe, whose loss of their lands throw them into chaos; and the hard-working Chinese who helped expand the railroads. These characters made me feel compassion and sadness for their plight, and helped me understand the reasons for their interactions. This is definitely a must read. This is a great follow-up to the author’s previous work, “Why”. I am hoping to read the author’s next novel (trilogy?).
Northern
Northern
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Sept 29, 2019

This book was informative, educational and a great sequel to Why, the author's first novel. I throughly enjoyed it to the end.
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Book Trailer

About the Author

Marvin was born and raised in Baltimore Maryland, in its’ then, racially segregated-housing projects.

In 1957, three years following the Supreme Court landmark decision, i.e., 
Brown v. Board of Education, ruling that state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools as being unconstitutional, following his graduation from Cherry Hill Jr. High, at the insistence of his mother and the urging of one of his Jr. High School English teachers, Marvin was enrolled at, and subsequently, graduated from Baltimore’s previously all-white, Southern High School. One of Marvin’s fondest memories of high school was that during his senior year at Southern High, Marvin was chosen for 2 nd Tenor, section leader of what he and his fellow choir members proudly thought of as; “The World Famous, Southern High School Acapella Choir”. After high school, Marvin enlisted and served nearly six years in the U.S. Navy.

While stationed, serving as a Hospital Corpsman at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Saint Albans New York, Marvin met, wooed, and married his beautiful, brilliant wife, Linda. Marvin is a graduate of the United States Navy’s Hospital Corps School; the United States Navy’s School of Medical Technology; Long Island University (C.W. Post College); and the New School University.

His professional career has been spent as a Senior Hospital Administrator in several of New York City and Nassau County’s prestigious teaching Medical Centers.

In 2002, following the 9-11 terrorist attack on New York City, Marvin actively sought, and was subsequently offered, the position of Administrative Officer, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine for the New York and the Brooklyn VA Medical Centers.

Marvin retired from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs at the end of October, 2012. “It was at my wife Linda’s urging (she later confessed …because after my retirement, I was constantly underfoot), that I decided to attempt to write a novel.”