Chariot on the Mountain

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

I love finding books that are based on little known stories.   I found this book to be a hidden treasure of American history.  Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford is set in 1844 in Virginia and features a slave named Kitty Payne as its main character.  Upon finding out that her master/father has passed away, Kitty immediately decides to run away with her children rather than face being sold and separated from them.  Unfortunately, she is caught but surprisingly not punished.  Instead Kitty is stunned to find out that her deceased master's wife plans on personally hand delivering her to freedom in the state of Pennsylvania.  What follows is a fast paced novel of dangerous trials and tribulations among the Underground Railroad.  Upon reaching Pennsylvania and receiving papers that set her free, Kitty finds that her troubles are far from over.  Kitty soon discovers that she will have to defend her freedom while boldly attempting to punish the person who most wants that freedom to not be granted.  As the book neared it's conclusion, I feared the author would end the book in a way that wouldn't sound historically accurate.  However, I didn't need to worry as the author found a nice way to compromise history with fictional storytelling.  If I hadn't read the Author's Notes of this book, I probably would have thought parts of the book to be too unrealistic to have happened during this time period. 
 I appreciated how the author describes how much of the story is actually based on real events.  I think many readers will find this story to be fascinating and will find themselves wanting to learn more about the real Kitty Payne.   Thanks to Kensington and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Even though, this book is based upon little-known true events, from the start, it seemed like a FANTASTICAL story. I thought, in time, it would become more realistic and not be a glorified novel about how whites happily righted the wrongs of slaves. Again, portraying their horrific unchristian deeds as being the "white savior". This book is very reminiscent of 'The Help" in that regard. Why in most slavery books written by whites they must write "the good" of the whites during slavery? It's not realistic and it's tiring.

If you switch this to a story of friendship during slavery and not try to promote that the jealous and spiteful wife of the Master who raped his slave is now the savior of that child and her children it would, perhaps, be a bit more believable. These are my opinions. I could write plainly, but I'm quite infuriated by this persistent narrative.

I don't know all about the Quakers, but hoorah to them! Please write more stories about the Quakers during slavery and how they assisted in the Underground Railroad.
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Chariot on the Mountain is inspired by the life of Kitty Payne.  Born a slave near Huntly Virginia, she was the daughter of her master, Samuel Maddox.  Six years after his death his widow Mary chose to emancipate Kitty and her four children.  This decision alone was highly unusual for that time.  But to add more fuel to the fire that was already kindling, Mary chose to move with Kitty's family to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.   This incited Samuel's nephew to hire a band of slave catchers to kidnap the entire Payne family and bring them back into the bonds of slavery.   But the story doesn't end there.  Kitty went on to pursue and successfully defend a court case to win back her family's freedom. 

Although Chariot on the Mountain is a fictional account of this incredible story, Jack Ford's diligence in relaying the facts of both the legal case and rendering the sentiments of this time period make this moment in history come alive.   I was fascinated by this tale of strength and unity and am glad to see Kitty Payne's story finally being told.  Special thanks to Net Galley, Kensington Books and Jack Ford for receiving an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This  book is based upon factual events. How would you feel if you were born a slave woman and had been one your whole life? Upon your master's death your mistress set you free and traveled with you and your 3 children to Pennsylvania, a free state. Upon reaching Pennsylvania while in a "safe house" with your children a horrifying thing happened to you. You were kidnapped by your mistresse's nephew and dragged back to Virginia, a slave state. Before you got there you were abused,manhandled,starved,dehydrated all while proclaiming your innocence. With the help of your mistress you take your kidnapper to court. At this time in history it was unheard of for a woman let alone a former slave woman to take a man to jail. What lawyer would want to represent her? This book was just amazing and once again when I find a historical book that fascinates me I had to find out more about this woman and her life than was covered. If you enjoy reading historical books about incredibly resilient women you will enjoy this. I know I sure did.
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This was a compelling story of a young slave who was determined that she not be separated from her three children as she had been from her mother. Kitty was a real person, and the author has made her story known through fiction based on research. I particularly was interested in the Underground Railroad, and through Kitty’s eyes, I saw how it worked. Bless the Quakers for loving those in such danger, and at risk to themselves. Kitty’s story deserved to be told!

This book was given to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Chariot on the Mountain tells a fictionalized version of the true story of Kitty Payne, born into slavery, the daughter of a slave and slave owner. On the slave owner’s deathbed, he makes his wife, Mary promise to free Kitty and the children. Mary fully plans to comply with her husband’s wishes until a greedy nephew comes into the picture, contesting the will so that she cannot dispose of any “property” until the case is settled. Of course, that “property” includes Kitty and her children. While we’ve all read about slavery, I will never be able to conceive of people as property. Though slavery was several centuries ago, I am still struck while reading about people, usually “Christians,” that thought that enslaving people was in any way moral. Mary has a friend who is a prime example of this mindset,  though she does support Mary when Mary decides to make the trek to freedom with Kitty and the children. 

I was uncomfortable with some of the dialogue, the stereotypical language attributed to Kitty and other slaves in the book. The language may very well have been historically accurate, but it just didn’t feel right to me, especially since Kitty begins to speak grammatically correctly around the middle of the book. I applaud Jack Ford for bringing Kitty Payne’s story into the limelight, but the writing never really grabbed me. That said, the story is so compelling that I would recommend the book. 

Thank you to Netgalley, Kensington Books and the author for the ARC of Chariot on the Mountain in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Firstly my sincere thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading the remarkable Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford.    

Set on  a farm in Rappahannock County, Virginia, Samuel Maddox has a dying wish.     On his deathbed he asks his wife Mary to consider setting free Kitty, one of their female slaves and her three small children.    Initially this request presents Mary with a personal, social and moral dilemma but soon decides it's the right thing to do.     Given it's 1844 this is no small decision and one not easily undertaken.   For this to happen Mary needs to get Kitty and her children north to Pennsylvania.   This is their story and all it entails.    It's a beauty and one I'm so pleased to have encountered.

Summarising what I loved most about this is easy.   It opened my eyes and elicited a wide array of emotions from anger to astonishment.  At times I despaired and other times I felt elated.  This wonderful work of historical fiction not only entertained but it educated.   The narrative opened my eyes to the astounding attitudes towards slaves in 1844 Virginia.    Time and again I caught the reprehensible message that slaves were not considered people but property and as such could be treated any way the owner deemed fit.       Though I'd heard of the Underground Railroad this novel made it real and its importance was made clear in a way I'd never understood before.    

The author filled his pages with characters some of whom were made to be loved whilst others were equally loathesome.  Given the time and place I wondered if the strong female characters were credibile.   Could these amazing  women really have existed in these times?   Would they have taken the actions they did to secure Kitty's freedom?    Was it possible that the court case which was central to the story could really have happened?   I love it when there's an element of fact to beloved fiction.    In this case I was overjoyed to read the Author note in which  Ford indicated "Although the resulting story is a work of fiction, the majority of the foundational facts are true. With just a few exceptions, all the characters described here actually existed, and their backgrounds, relationships, and roles in Kitty’s narrative are generally accurate. .     

Bravo for bringing this wonderful story to life.   It's one I'm sure I'll long remember and the temptation is here for me to recount it in great detail.  Instead of spoiling the story the better option is for me to recommend you get your hands on the book and try it for yourself asap.   I'm fairly sure it will not disappoint.
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I really enjoyed this book based on the true story of slave Kitty Payne and her mistress Mary Maddox.  Jack Ford does a fine job of putting all of the facts of what happened after her master and father Samuel Maddox passed away, and his wife Mary was left with his farm and slaves. 
In the end, the author explains the research that went into the writing of the book which I found fascinating. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
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An interesting read that brings one to reflect on the social context in which slavery flourished in North America. The steady chronological plot lacks a bit of excitement; Some changes of pace and mode of storytelling may have made the book a bit more exciting. Nevertheless, it seems to be a well research and carefully written book.
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Author: Jack Ford
Published: July 31, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
FLW Rating: 5/5

I seriously struggle with historical fiction if I think the story is "just" a novel from a different era - for a historical fiction novel to really strike me I need to know that it's based on a true story. So I wanted to start off this review by saying this book is based on a true story and it is an extraordinary story that you will not find anywhere else. Ford, the author, discovered this story by reading a historical plaque on a courthouse in Virginia, and went through years of research to put this story together. Point being: If it weren't for him this story would have gone untold. Luckily, Ford is also a fantastic writer so this book is full of complex narratives that make it a full 5 star read for me.

Chariot on the Mountain tells the story of Kitty's journey to freedom. Kitty is a slave living on a plantation in Virginia, where she had always been given preferential treatment as she was the illegitimate child of the plantation owner. But when the owner passes away, Kitty knows her future will be uncertain if she stays put. The road to freedom is bumpy road to say the least, and before anything can be decided Kitty will travel the underground railroad, return to Virginia, and become to first black woman to sue a white man.

This book deals with the topic of slavery, and let's just be honest, there's no gray area with slavery - we all know slavery is bad. So I was really pleased with how effective the author was at surprising me with a) how bad it was and b) how commonplace it was. There was a lot of talk about how slavery was part of the lifestyle and how the northerners just didn't understand their lifestyle, along with the realization of how hard it would be to abolish slavery since it's so important for the economy. (Just think about how hard it is to outlaw something like guns today! There would have been so many fierce opponents of slavery who would have lobbied hard against the abolishionists.) 

The dialog in this book also added to emotional impact for me. Coming primarily from the villain of the story, there were lines such as "they're just slaves, it's not as if they're humans with emotions." At first reading this, my reaction was to feel like the writing wasn't very nuanced, too blunt and overstated and surely noone actually thought that, right? But the more this line stuck with me, the more I've come to appreciate the writing style. It really drove home the point of what it would be like to be in a country where you didn't have a single human right. Perhaps not to the same extent, or maybe so depending on your political beliefs, but this didn't seem too far off how I expect immigrants are being treated at the border today. One thing I worried about with this book, was that it was too far in the past for me to relate to, but emotions like this, unfortunately, made this book all too relevant in this crazy times.

Beyond knowing that the story was based on true events, I also enjoyed knowing that Ford was a lawyer. I worried that the court scenes would be written in a style bordering on cheesy, but I ended up enjoying the complexities of the law that he brought in to the story, which no doubt came from his experience in the court room.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this book and am so happy that NetGalley pointed it out to me as a book I might like! I flew through it in a couple of days and always looked forward to picking it up again. It's out on shelves now so I highly reccomend you check this one out!

[Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the free copy of the book. All opinions are my own]
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This awesome book is based upon factual events. How would you feel if you were born a slave woman and had been one your whole life? Upon your master's death your mistress set you free and traveled with you and your 3 children to Pennsylvania, a free state. Upon reaching Pennsylvania while in a "safe house" with your children a horrifying thing happened to you. You were kidnapped by your mistresse's nephew and dragged back to Virginia, a slave state. Before you got there you were abused,manhandled,starved,dehydrated all while proclaiming your innocence. With the help of your mistress you take your kidnapper to court. At this time in history it was unheard of for a woman let alone a former slave woman to take a man to jail. What lawyer would want to represent her? This book was just amazing and once again when I find a historical book that fascinates me I had to find out more about this woman and her life than was covered. If you enjoy reading historical books about incredibly resilient women you will enjoy this. I know I sure did.
Pub Date 31 July 2018
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington Books through NetGalley. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Chariot on the Mountain is a book focused on Kitty, a daughter of a slave owner and slave after the slave owner’s death and Mary, the slave owner’s widow.

Even though the story is original the second quarter and the last quarter of the book regarding the escape and trial were drawn out and dull. The book failed to capture my attention for lengths of time and was hard to read all the way through. Character development of Kitty, for whom the book was written, was non existent.
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Once in awhile, you read a book that you fall in love with. It becomes your "go-to or must-read" recommendation and the one that you tell all your friends to read. It is definitely your book club pick that month. We've all read those books and each year begins the search for another one,
But how about a book that you finish reading and get to say that my life is better or richer for having read it. That list is a lot smaller and hard to come by.
Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford is a "life richer" book. Chariot on the Mountain is the inspirational story of Kitty, a slave fathered by Virginia plantation owner, Samuel Maddox, and her three children. Samuel's dying wish was to free Kitty and her children. Courageous widow, Mary Maddox, decides that granting Kitty's freedom is the "right and moral" thing to do.
Unfortunately, Mary's greedy, despicable nephew, Samuel Maddox, feels differently. What makes this book so rich is Ford's vivid description of Mary and Kitty's perilous journey to Pennsylvania to Kitty and her children's freedom. You will feel breathless and anxious as they make their journey on the Underground Railroad with all of the dangers and the knowledge that Samuel and his gang weren't far behind.
While this is Kitty's story, it is also Mary's story as well and her growth as an individual not just a "wife."
If the book ended there, readers would be satisfied because of Ford's masterful storytelling but the journey is only part one of this brilliant book.
Part two is the tale of "right versus wrong," and that when in the worst of times, there will always be hope. The hope that people will see and do what is moral and good. The legal aspect is just as descriptive. Just pull up a seat in the courthouse and listen as Kitty fights for her freedom again. She, also, takes on the white establishment and wants them held accountable in the time where black people were not considered equal.
This isn't a fun read, it's a must read especially in our troubling times to help us understand our past and where we need to learn from our past.
My life is better off with having read this book. I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley. #netgalley #chariotonthemountain
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This is a fictional account of a real little known slave's journey from emancipation to freedom via the Underground Railroad.  This book is brilliantly written and I have recommended it to several people!
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I was moved by this book about Kitty and knowing that she was a real person who went through this struggle, made me that much more invested in her story. Ford did an excellent job on giving this woman a voice. Kitty's character showed how I would imagine the real Kitty would've behaved.

I enjoyed how he made sure this story had complexity and depth. Ford really made these people come back to life. I couldn't put this book down because I had to know what was happening with Kitty and Mary. 

This story is hard at times because I cannot fathom what it would be like to live in a time where it was justifiable to treat another human so poorly because they were seen as property. I am glad Ford discovered Kitty's story, though, because it showed the strength and courage African Americans had during the times of slavery.
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Not at all what I expected. Because the writer is a journalist I thought the book would be more based in fact with a bit of poetic license. Unfortunately there was not much historical record for the author to go on, and the actual court case did not have transcripts. So basically the entire book is made up with the plot following the basic facts known. Unfortunately this reads like some antebellum miniseries from the 80’s. Kitty’s voice did felt off to me the entire story. This book falls completely flat and there are much better books that cover this subject matter, like Roots and Cane River.
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"Chariot on the Mountain" shines a spotlight on Kitty, a formerly enslaved woman freed by her mistress, Mary. Kitty faces numerous threats to her freedom but refuses to succumb to the man hell-bent on imprisoning her once again. Based on real events, "Chariot on the Mountain" leaves readers breathless as they travel with Kitty from Virginia to Pennsylvania and back again. I loved learning about these strong women that truly defied the laws, customs, and culture of their homeland. They took a stand for justice and blazed new trails in the hypocritical, "land of the free." 

I enjoyed "Chariot on the Mountain"; however, it is fast-paced and leaves little room for suspense. That would probably be my only real complaint. Even in books based on true stories, I like the feeling of sitting on the edge of my seat and knowing that I have to "read just ONE MORE chapter." Overall, "Chariot on the Mountain" is an inspiring story that honors great women in American history and is definitely worth reading!
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4 brilliant stars to Chariot on the Mountain! 

I first heard about this book on The View, as it was a pick from one of the hosts for summer reading. Then, I saw a highly rated review from Angela M. and knew I needed to pick this one up, too. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

Just prior to the Civil War, a farmer in Virginia named Samuel Maddox passes away, leaving his wife owning his property, including his slave, Kitty, and her small children. Kitty happens to be Samuel’s biological daughter. 

For years, Mary, Samuel’s wife, had a difficult time accepting Kitty into their house and family. Ultimately, Mary decides to free Kitty and her children and travels along the Underground Railroad to Pennsylvania where she will be emancipated. 

However, slave-catchers, including Samuel’s nephew, kidnap Kitty and take her back to Virginia. On a leap of faith, the confident Kitty presses charges against Maddox for kidnapping. Thanks to her powerful allies, Kitty is successful in being granted a trial that will determine whether she will really be free. 

What I loved most about this book is the indestructible bond Kitty forms with her allies who also happen to be women. The writing by journalist, Jack Ford, is smooth and enticing. Chariot on the Mountain is based on true events, which both astounded and elated me, when I saw what lengths the allies would go to in order to protect Kitty and her children. A little caveat is initially the writing was overwrought with description, language, and accents, but in persevering, I found it improved tremendously and ended up on the exceptional side. I adored this story and wish I could have the experience of reading it all over again. 

Thank you to Kensington Publishing for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. Chariot on the Mountain will be published on July 31, 2018.
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Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford

I really loved the narrative and this author's style of storytelling that from the very first page I was hooked and couldn't put this historical work down. The author Jack Ford is talented in not just as a writer but was a prosecutor, trial lawyer, but also a legal journalist. While visiting an 1830's era courthouse that still functions today as the Rappahannock County courtroom where the setting in Virginia, where most of this incredible story takes place. Mr Ford came upon a plaque that read KITTY PAYNE***FREEDOM LOST AND REGAINED.

Kitty was born into slavery in 1816 with her biological father Samuel Maddox also her master on a farming plantation had sold Kitty's mother off to appease his wife Mary who couldn't have any children. The story opens with Sam making a deathbed request of his wife Mary who is the executor of the estate to free 34 year old Kitty and her three children from slavery. What I loved was the kindness of Sam's widow Mary towards Kitty and her three children. Kitty has grown up in her father's house and could read and write. The fierce determination of Mary to free Kitty was what made this story of slavery unique.

There is a big problem with freeing Kitty. Mary's deceased husband has a nephew who carries the same name as Kitty's father and even though he wasn't named in Sam's will, there is some mention of this estate after Mary's death being passed to his namesake nephew. This nephew Sam is greedy and believes that the slaves being sold will put money in his pockets and he feels wrongly that they are his property. The nephew is a stark contrast to Mary's loving character. He feels that slaves do not get their freedom and in Virginia Kitty and her children are in danger of the nephew selling them.

Mary, Kitty and her three children plan their escape and are helped by various kind people in the underground railway from Virginia to Pennsylvania where Pennsylvania law allows owners of slaves to grant them their freedom. Mary signs the necessary documents to free Kitty and her three children and sees that Kitty is safe living with another black couple. I just loved Kitty's independent personality and her grace. I loved how the women were determined to help Kitty get her freedom.

The story of what happens to Kitty is where the story continues. There is greed and false entitlement on the part of the evil nephew. I will say that Kitty's battle for freedom isn't over so easily. Her safety and security in Pennsylvania is short lived. I leave the reader to discover what happens. This was interesting and a fresh perspective on the pre-cival war South. It is based on factual events and factual characters. I was captivated from start to finish which are my favorite kind of books. Highly recommended!

Thank you to Net Galley, Jack Ford and Kensington Books for providing me with my digital copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Every once in a while you encounter a book that grabs you by the heart, leads you an a spectacular journey that you wish would never end. In CHARIOT ON THE MOUNTAIN, Jack Ford crafts a historical fiction, based on true events, about the Maddox family and their quest of redemption. 

Samuel Maddox, a middle-class Virginia farmer strays from his wife and is soon the father to one of their slave’s daughter, Kitty. In an effort to make life bearable, Samuel and his wife, Mary, agree to sell Kitty’s mother and raise Kitty. 

Upon Samuel’s deathbed, he urges Mary to free Kitty and her three children. Upon his passing his will leaves all of his property to his wife. But his nephew and only living relative, Sam Maddox, a no-do-gooder whose shenanigans are commonly known in town, interprets verbiage in the late Samuel’s will that the property is also his and thus he should be entitled to a say in the runnings of the property. 

This could jeopardize Mary’s ability to fulfill Samuel’s last wish and her own sense of consolation for the wrong she feels for having Kitty grow up without her mother. Thus they embark on a journey along the Underground Railroad to Pennsylvania, where Kitty and her children can be emancipated.  All the while, Sam and a gang of slave catchers on fresh on their trail. 

Mary emancipates Kitty and her children and they live with another recently emancipated family while they get on their feet. In a tragic turn of events, it’s this same family who turns Kitty and her children over to Sam and the slave catchers and return them back captive against their will in Virginia. 

What follows is a remarkable trial, Kitty sues Sam for her kidnapping and abuse. It’s outcome will leave the reader floored, as it did many people in that time. 

This book is very well written and I devoured it in two days, staying up late into the night unable to put the book down. It’s not common that I encounter such a marvelous story, but you will not regret picking this book up for a read. I rate it 5 very much deserved stars. 

I want to extend a special thank you to Kensington Publishing and NetGalley for granting me the Advance Reader’s Copy. I also want to thank Jack Ford for crafting a thrilling stories that will always have a special place on my bookshelf.
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