Dawson’s Fall by Roxana Robinson

Dawson’s Fall

This is certainly a novel for our times. It may take place in the late 1800’s but it’s a story for our generation. This novel is based on the true story of Roxana Robinson’s great-grandparents, really her great-grandfather Frank Dawson and his life in South Carolina after coming to America from England to fight for the Confederacy. His political, social, and moral leanings are investigated to the fullest.

Roxana Robinson is a no-nonsense writer who has novels and biographies under her belt. I first read her when she published COST and fell for her writing. Now here she is with a story that is practically lifted from today’s news. But it isn’t today, it’s so long ago. Some things never change.

I love the setting for the story. Charleston, South Carolina is such a great place to set a novel. And the actual story behind the novel took place right there.

Issues of slavery, moral misconduct and politics fill the pages of DAWSON’S FALL. It’s not a happy book. But it’s truthful and must have been difficult to write knowing that this happened to your own family. As Robinson penned this novel she had no idea we would be in the midst of a global pandemic and racial strife as not seen in so many years.

As Frank Dawson became the editor of the Charleston News & Courier, he becomes totally enmeshed in airing his views even to the point where he loses readership and begins having money problems.

It’s not often we read about the aftermath of the Civil War and the horrors that were faced on a daily basis. But, Robinson is the master of showing and not telling of the racism and violence that was barely endured. This tragic novel is important. It’s powerful. And it’s beautiful. Do not miss this one.

The New York Times says: How should a white writer write about whiteness? In no particular way. One sits with the truth, holds it, troubles it and writes as far into it as one’s pen will go. Robinson acknowledges that Frank Dawson “wrote to explain the world to itself” and that, in the end, no explanation could suffice. “Dawson’s Fall” asks what truth means in an era when conviction matters more, and Roxana Robinson’s answer — that morality is friable — should make us sit up and tremble.

My review copy arrived as a finished hard cover from Sarah Crichton Books, a division of Farrar, Straus and Groux Publishers in exchange for an honest review. A very important literary novel that gets inside the tragic issues of race and morality in our country then and today. A real keeper. Great for book club discussion.

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