A literary epic, many years in the making: The panoramic, breathtaking story of two runaway slaves who forge the western frontier, by the author of the acclaimed ("Truly extraordinary." — Toni Morrison) and award-winning novel The Good Negress.
Eloquent, inventive, heartbreaking, riveting, this is the second novel by the acclaimed writer A.J. Verdelle, a long- awaited follow-up to her prize-winning debut The Good Negress. MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH tells the story of two slaves who escape their Arkansas plantation and cross the country on foot to live free on the lawless plains of the western frontier. Harriet is the "garden gal" on the Scott’s plantation—an industrious, skilled midwife who has the gift of making things grow. P. is a hostler who is loaned out for his labors and given unusual privileges by his master. P. dreams of escape but needs a partner and sets his sights on Harriet. When Harriet’s young daughter is sold off to another plantation, she becomes despondent—and reckless enough to run. Together the two overcome myriad obstacles that stand between them and the inchoate notion of freedom—illiteracy, harsh weather, violence, and the ever-present threat of capture—and set up a homestead outside of the crossroads that would become Cheyenne. Verdelle has brought to life on a broad canvas and in exquisite detail the industry of slavery in mid-nineteenth century America, the terror and majesty of the Western frontier, and the haunting and captivating interior life of the slave.