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Joseph Knight

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  176 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
There have been an increasing number of newspaper stories, TV programmes and first-hand reports of encounters with angels. But how do you know if angels are trying to connect with you? Angela McGerr believes that angels are everywhere around us, ready to give us there unconditional love and support. In this light-hearted but informative guide she shows how to find your gua ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 8th 2004 by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published 2003)
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Apr 26, 2011 Veronica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Veronica by: Heather Burns
Shelves: fiction
I was disappointed with this; I found much of it dry and rather academic. It's about real events and people, and it read more like a history book than a novel, especially the court scenes and the tiresome conversations with Samuel Johnson et al. Robertson was so keen to convey period atmosphere that he had pages and pages of description which fell smartly into the trap referred to by David Mitchell:
To get it right, you need to research and research and research. And then you need to hide all you
Jul 30, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s hard to believe that a man can sit down one day with an idea that has developed in his mind and then starts to meticulously plan and construct a story like this, with all its intricacies, eventually producing such a marvellous novel as ‘Joseph Knight’. I’m quite in awe of this author and his work here. It’s not just a story but an examination of history, freedom, morals and principles.

The book is about the search for Joseph Knight, an African who was the subject of an pivotal court case in
I was given this as a present for Christmas 2014, but it took me 9 months to get round to reading it. This is one of those books that for me fell somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, so I have been slightly generous with a 4-star marking.

The novel has a strong theme, being based on a real 18th century court case. Joseph Knight, a house slave on a Jamaican plantation, was taken to Scotland by his owner, John Wedderburn, when the latter returned home to Scotland to live. Cutting a long story short, Kn
MJ Nicholls
Entertaining if overlong telling of the story of Joseph Knight. This was a pivotal moment in black history: a slave is given his freedom but must live with the hypocrises and spectres of his past.

Exemplary Scots dialect, canny plotting and humorous digressions abound. Historical novels aren't my teacup, but I was pleasantly involved despite myself. (Though 100 pages could be sliced, easily).
Jul 18, 2011 Padavi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt there were several novels fighting for prominence within the covers. The Boswell/ Hume aspects were interesting from a historical perspective but got in the way of the narrative. I would like to read a novel about Knight's 'missing' years though.
Nov 25, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on the true tale of the slave Joseph Knight, brought back to Inchture (of all places) from Jamaica by his master in 1769. knight won his freedom after a long fight through the Scottish courts, establishing the principle that the unjust laws of slavery in Jamaica could not hold sway in Scotland. The novel conjures up a believable version of Jamaica and Scotland of the time, from the Caribbean plantations to Dundee inns. It avoids going for cheap sympathy by imagining a thrawn and stubborn c ...more
Ken Muir
Apr 14, 2016 Ken Muir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it's entitled 'Joseph Knight', the character himself is barely seen in the story, up until the final couple of chapters. It could better have been named 'The Search for Joseph Knight' for this is primarily what the book is about. There is the physical search that Sir John Wedderburn initiates, to try to find the whereabouts of Joseph, his ex-slave, brought back from a sugar plantation in Jamaica to Scotland, and subsequently freed as a result of several court hearings. The book also dea ...more
Apr 20, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Scottish history esp. aftermath of '45 Jacobite rebellion, Empire and slavery
“Nations and people are largely the stories they feed themselves. If they tell themselves stories that are lies, they will suffer the future consequences of those lies. If they tell themselves stories that face their own truths, they will free their histories for future flowerings.” – Ben Orki, Birds of Heaven

Optimist: I loved this inscription.

Cynic: Flowery words. Don’t you think the focus should be on the overwhelming evil of slavery rather than the rehabilitation of the country responsible fo
Anna Engel
Robertson tried, he really did. He makes an admirable stab at writing about two very complex periods in history: the late 18th century and the early 19th century. The first time period covered the Scottish uprising, culminating in the massacre at Culloden, the racial unrest in the colonies, the debate over slavery, and the place of the monarchy in the political realm. The second time period saw the rise of independent democracies, the use of legal channels to achieve freedom from slavery, the bu ...more
May 20, 2016 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this one. The different narratives of the different times worked well together, and the inclusion of specific places and dates, as well as newspaper excerpts at the beginning of each section, lent this novel an air of authenticity. The ambiguity about the characters for a large portion of the novel appealed to me, and the characters all seem like real, fully rounded people. Apart from those elements, the novel is excellently written, especially in its inclusion of the Scottish d ...more
Stephanie Heald
Dec 26, 2015 Stephanie Heald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating insight into Scotland's role in the slave trade. Traces the story of a family of plantation owners - slave owners - and a case between them and one of their slaves. Explores the extent of their responsibility but also their struggles and doubts, fears and conscience, as it tries to explain how something so appalling became acceptable. But like a portrait in a gallery, that insight is limited, at arms length, you never really feel you know the characters. And it is only really at the ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on a true story and true historical facts. Very well written, including lots of details so that once you read it, you get exposed to the different perceptions that perpetuated, excused, and eventually destroyed the machinery of slavery established in Scotland and Britain at that time. You also get to experience how slavery affected the enslaved like Joseph Knight.
Jan 27, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extremely skillful novel based on historical events--carefully structured, atmospheric, and with thoughtfully developed characters. The detail in the court scenes is perhaps more than we need, but it's a fascinating look at Scotland's history and connection to slavery in the new world.
Alanna Burns
Jan 10, 2013 Alanna Burns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend this book to anyone and have given it to lots of people as a present. I love the fact that it's a true story and lifts the lid in Scotland's relationship with Caribbean slavery. slavery has literally been "painted out" of the wealth of our national merchants. it connects with so many fascinating turns in history - including the jacobites and the Scottish enlightenment. excellent, educational, and heart breaking.
Jul 13, 2010 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just returned from Scotland and read this book by a local author. I learned a lot about Scotland and the slave trade in Jamaica. I also was able to glean some history from the storyline. A very good novel if you are interested in Scotland, the legal system and the slave trade.
Susannah Vanstone
Aug 14, 2014 Susannah Vanstone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd say five stars but I don't think I could bring myself to read this book again. Some bits are so ghastly, I'd rather forget them. But it's an unnerving study of people brutalised by their own experiences and becoming unfeeling monsters.
Jun 13, 2012 Oonagh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent historical novel based on a real-life court case in Scotland in the 1760's, when a Scottish plantation owner brings a slave back to Scotland from Jamaica, and the slave sues for freedom.
Mara Eastern
A carefully researched historical novel. The amount of details and facts hinders the narrative pace and spoils some of the enjoyment of the story.
Jan 05, 2011 Yvonne is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting handling of topic of slavery. Scottish dialect adds flavour, yet is easy to read.
Oct 02, 2011 Mo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great easy to read book. A heart rendering tale. Great ending.
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Jun 24, 2016
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Doug Young rated it really liked it
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