Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Review: Gleanings from Long Ago by Ellen Mordecai

Gleanings from Long Ago by Ellen Mordecai

Ellen Mordecai was part of the third generation of her family to live at Mordecai House in Raleigh, North Carolina. She lived from 1820 to 1916 and thus saw a lot of changes. The book is mostly her childhood remembrances, i.e. the antebellum plantation life of the American South. She tells charming stories of wandering the countryside, visiting relatives (sometimes traveling great distances), playing with her sister, and describing the various people who visited or lived with them. She describes the countryside and a lot of the garden and wild vegetation in detail.

Her attitude toward slavery is very child-like. She describes her relationship with their slaves as quite congenial and full of mutual admiration. She completely avoids any sense of exploitation or hardship, which at best is an incomplete view of the situation. Her remembrances are all about the fun and fascination of her childhood experiences, so the "rose-colored glasses" are in full effect.

The book is interesting as a slice of life from a bygone era but not particularly deep or greatly entertaining. I picked up my copy at the Mordecai Historic Park gift shop and it does make a nice supplement to the visit. Being able to picture the people in the rooms or on the grounds is fun.

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