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Jubilee and Related Readings

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  4,982 ratings  ·  509 reviews
Here is the classic--and true--story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress, a Southern Civil War heroine to rival Scarlett O'Hara. Vyry bears witness to the South's prewar opulence and its brutality, to its wartime ruin and the subsequent promise of Reconstruction. It is a story that Margaret Walker heard as a child from her grandmother, the ...more
Hardcover, 616 pages
Published 1998 (first published 1966)
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Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenna by: Carly Friedman
I am so glad I challenged myself to read a classic a month this year. I'm always adding so many new books to my TBR list that I never get around to looking for some of the gaps in the classics. Had I not decided to rectify that this year, I might never have come across Margaret Walker's epic Jubillee What an absolutely AMAZING novel! ​

Jubillee tells the story of Vyry, born into slavery to a black mother and their white "marster". The book follows her life, from slavery through the Civil War, al
Jubilee is the African-American counterpart to Gone with the Wind.

But it is more than that as it is based on the actual story of Margaret Walker's great-grandmother, Margaret Duggans Ware Brown. Walker grew up listening to these stories told by her grandmother about her mother born a slave before the war. Later as an adult she spent years researching the pre- and post-war eras, various dialects, battles and famous personages, family history, etc., in order to write Jubilee.

It is historical fict
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Completely heart-wrenching. I am still so much under the effect of this book that I can hardly verbalize what makes it so powerful.

The heroine, Vyry, is one of those who stays with you forever. I feel like I lived through all of Vyry's horrors and joys with her and she will always be someone whose example of fortitude I will remind myself of when I experience horror of my own.

The writing is not ornate, not overly complex. It's written in a style completely appropriate for the subject matter and
Robin Miles, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama brought this audiobook to life with her extraordinary voice and ability to render different characters. At almost 500 pages, ‘Jubilee’ by Margaret Walker would have been much more challenging to read, had it not been for the voice of Miles, turning Vyry into a three-dimensional character with hopes, fears, and dreams that I could easily identify with. The comfort of a safe home, the luxury of a predictable day, a good education for her children ...more
Kimberly Dawn
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I am left swooning over this book. A true story that reads like great fiction. I loved, loved, loved it, even as I felt every sorrow and injustice conveyed by the author, every verbal and physical abuse, every loss that was faced as a result of hatred and racial discrimination.

While the heroine of this story may been bloodied and bowed for a time, she was never broken. Vyry is a hardworking woman of fortitude, courage, and great faith. A wise woman with only love in her heart not only for her f
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A historical novel running from the period before the American Civil War, through the war and to the aftermath. It follows Vyry, a slave with a black mother and a white father (the master of the plantation) through slavery in the ante-bellum years to freedom charting the struggle of freed slaves to make a living and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Walker researched the history behind this for thirty years and it is basically the story of her great grandmother. Comparisons have been drawn with Gone ...more
Rachel Aranda
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, owned
4.5 stars for a really enjoyable audiobook!
Jubilee was one of those books I hadn't heard about until I saw it as an Audible Daily Deal. I looked into the history of the book and its author and I found out some interesting things. Ms. Walker released this story in the 1960s and it was well received. In truth, I can see why. Many people, including myself, saw this as a realistic story on slavery and the 7 years after it was abolished as it shows both the hope and disappointment that many blacks fa
By now, I've read plenty of books set in antebellum south, and although this novel does not score as high as kindred or incidents in the life of a slave girl, it's still fairly good. It's the only one that I've read which captures the antebellum era, civil war, and the reconstruction period.

My favourite aspect of the novel was the portrayal of the reconstruction era. The reconstruction period was truly a period of lost hopes and dreams. It seemed as if United States may have been able to achiev
This is a solid example of great story-telling. This novel, written in 1966, is the combined result of the author's 30 years of research of the ante-bellum years, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and her own great-grandmother's oral history passed down through her family. If you love historical fiction, great story-telling or thought-provoking novels, you will probably love this book. ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine waking up each morning, knowing that your life was not yours to live, that you were under someone else's control. Imagine waking up and knowing that you had a hard day's labor, and you weren't getting paid. Imagine if you tried to "quit" this job, you would be whipped mercilessly.

For Elvira "Vyry" Brown, this wasn't anything to imagine, it was her life. Born a slave to her white master and his black slave mistress, fate was not on her side from the get go. Oh her early life, up until age
Diane Barnes
This was a powerful book and a great story, based on the life of the author's great-grandmother. I don't doubt that all the events of this book either actually happened or could have happened just as they were depicted. The Antebellum years, Civil War and Reconstruction were a sad and dark time.
BUT, I could not connect emotionally with any of the characters in this book. Neither black not white, male or female, young or old, master or slave; even the main character of Vyry failed to make me care

Throughout my life when someone asks me what my favorite book is, my response is usually Gone With The Wind (have read and watched it over 20 times in my life). My mother’s line is Southern / Northern, and it goes like that all the way back to the Mayflower, to Miss Priscilla Mullins. It was always a mild laugh-getter that her people fought each other to get to us Westerners (The Truly Chosen). I was unaware and Ignorant (as my Texan Granny would say) of the other side of the GWTW coin or
Brown Girl Reading
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Interested in reading good African-American novel with historical detail
I'm rating this one 3,5 stars!
Here's the Live show discussion I had with Danielle from OneSmallPaw and Tatiana from Musical Tati. Enjoy and let me know what you thought of Jubilee.
Jan Marquart
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Jubilee at a time when I was horribly sick from the effects of toxic mold. Since toxic mold spits out toxins I became chemically sensitive. At the time I was living in a small room, no kitchen, no furniture, sleeping on the hardwood. I had nothing but a crock pot and four pieces of organic clothing fiercely wondering how I was going to survive in a toxic world. I was attracted to Jubilee and it saved me from collapsing into my own life. It is a courageous story of a Black American wo ...more
Feb 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent novel that author Margaret Walker developed depicting the pre and post antebellum life of a mulatto woman living in the South. Walker does an amazing job presenting the reader with the main character Vyry, who is born a slave and eventually experiences freedom after the conclusion of the Civil War. Vyry is shown as a strong willed woman with unwavering integrity, faith, and ambition. This book is definitely a classic within African American literature, which continues to re ...more
Joy D
Historical fiction based on the life of the author’s maternal great grandmother, the daughter of a black slave and a white plantation owner. The protagonist, Vyry, is a strong, black woman with an admirable integrity of spirit in the face of severe adversity. She is a woman of faith doing the best she can for her family, as they suffer through slavery and then through continued racist torment during Reconstruction. It is split into three parts: Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction. I found ...more
I liked this story a lot, though it is wordy and lags in places. The author's research is extensive and as I have little more than a passing familiarity with the details of the Civil War it was much appreciated. More than the picture of slavery presented in this book, I appreciate the picture of reconstruction.
Also the portrayal of Northern Whites as rabidly racist as their southern counterparts is captured vividly.
The only real issue I have is the end when Vyry has a long speech about 'good wh
Laurel Hicks
Why has it taken fifty years for me to find this excellent historical novel? It's the reverse side of Gone with the Wind, and oh, so much better. (I am not a fan of GwtW.) ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hf-usa, 1960s
When it was new ... back in my social science undergrad time ... Book impressed me, informed me ... can't remember content now.
Here's helpful Kirkus ...

At first glance this Houghton Mifflin Prize Novel seems to travel the well worn sweet persimmon trail of Civil War novels--sparsely faceted characters bolstered by research into the vagaries of General Sherman's bristling and ragtag hordes. However, it is perhaps just because of the shades of the old Scarlet sagas, that this book a
Scriptor Ignotus
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I’ve had this book in my possession for over a decade. I picked it up at my college bookstore because it was on a required reading list for an introductory American History course I was taking, but for reasons I can’t quite remember, I ended up not needing it after all. It has moved with me multiple times, and over the years I’ve grown accustomed to turning it over with a wary eye, wondering when the time would come to read it but never feeling inclined to crack it open.

Well, the mood finally s
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in classic style this is an over 50 year old National bestselling book that is often called Gone With The Wind from the perspective of those enslaved. Based on tales told from her Grandmother, Walker tells the story of Vyry the mixed race daughter of a white plantation owner and one of his mistress’s a young slave woman, as she endures slavery, witnesses the civil war, and finally struggles as a free woman to raise her family in very precarious post war times.
I first read this some year
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jubilee holds the true story of Vyry, the daughter of a plantation owner and his slave mistress. What made this book one of my new favorites is how well written it is...a combination of history that I never knew and this personal story of a great heroine. Vyry is like no other. She refuses to judge or hate but remains strong in the face of injustice. She loves, works, experiences loss, works, loves, experiences inhumanity over and over again. This book rivals Uncle Tom's Cabin for me...but allow ...more
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will never forget this book. Not only is it well-crafted and written, but it is thoroughly enjoyable, vivid, and engrossing. I am so glad I got to read it and I feel it is a great choice for ap us history summer reading as it was mine. I feel it is an accomplishment in history to have such an account of that time period's history not just from the slave's vantage but others as well. It is so nice to have a real account of what people went through and what the times were really like as that is ...more
4.5 stars - A stunning portrayal of a mid 18th century slave in south Georgia. Vyry is the fictional embodiment of Margaret Walker's own great-grandmother, and the story of Vyry is one that readers will remember for a long time. Other reviewers have noted that this is like Gone With the Wind from a slave's perspective, and it struck me as such as I was reading. Vyry is no less fiery than Scarlet O'Hara and her story is much more poignant since her life as a slave and as a black woman in the post ...more
Aaron S
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hate is the most destructive force in the world. If we eliminate hate we would all see the beauty that love provides.
teeg ✮
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was beautiful and horribly sad, I love Vyry and literally all that she stands for and believes. I had to read this for history but honestly please read this, it's pretty freaking good ...more
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. This should be required reading.
Margaret Walker's novel Jubilee (1966), based on the life story of her great-grandmother, follows Vyry (This name is short for Elvira, which I only mention because her name puzzled me for 75% of the book until her full name was revealed.) from her birth as a slave in pre-Civil War Georgia through the Civil War and into the Reconstruction era in Georgia and Alabama.

Walker uses Vyry to represent African American experience in the generation or two before the twentieth century begins: Vyry is a sl
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jubilee is a competent novel about an important historical subject. Margaret Walker put years of research into this fictionalized account of her grandmother's story. I do not regret reading it, and it kept my interest.

However, as far as novels about this subject matter go, this is not a remarkable one. The prose is pedestrian and contains a fair share of redundancies and awkward phrasing. The characters do not develop much, and their actions do not necessarily have motivations behind them. They
Jennifer DuBose
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful. The story, the characters, the narration (I listened on Audible)- just everything. If you want a realistic portrayal of the South before, during, and after the civil war, look no further. As romantic as Gone With the Wind is, it doesn’t compare to how real, heart wrenching, and spiritual Jubilee is. And it’s based on the life of the author’s great grandmother! I just don’t have the words to do this book justice. Here is a link to a great review: ...more
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Dr. Margaret Abigail Walker Alexander (July 7, 1915 – November 30, 1998) was an African-American poet and author born in Birmingham, Alabama. She wrote as Margaret Walker. One of her most known poems is "For My People".

Her father Sigismund C. Walker was a Methodist minister and her mother was Marion Dozier Walker. They helped get her started in literature by teaching a lot of philosophy and poetry

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