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Chariot on the Mountain

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"Once old Mastuh be dead, you be workin' in the fields just like the rest of 'em. That day comin' soon." Two decades before the Civil War, a middle-class farmer named Samuel Maddox lies on his deathbed. Elsewhere in his Virginia home, a young woman named Kitty knows her life is about to change. She is one of the Maddox family's slaves--and Samuel's biological daughter. Whe "Once old Mastuh be dead, you be workin' in the fields just like the rest of 'em. That day comin' soon." Two decades before the Civil War, a middle-class farmer named Samuel Maddox lies on his deathbed. Elsewhere in his Virginia home, a young woman named Kitty knows her life is about to change. She is one of the Maddox family's slaves--and Samuel's biological daughter. When Samuel's wife, Mary, inherits her husband's property, she will own Kitty too, along with Kitty's three small children. Already in her fifties and with no children of her own, Mary Maddox has struggled to accept her husband's daughter, a strong-willed, confident, educated woman who works in the house and has been treated more like family than slave. After Samuel's death, Mary decides to grant Kitty and her children their freedom, and travels with them to Pennsylvania, where she will file papers declaring Kitty's emancipation. Helped on their perilous flight by Quaker families along the Underground Railroad, they finally reach the free state. But Kitty is not yet safe. Dragged back to Virginia by a gang of slave-catchers led by Samuel's own nephew, who is determined to sell her and her children, Kitty takes a defiant step: charging the younger Maddox with kidnapping and assault. On the surface, the move is brave yet hopeless. But Kitty has allies--her former mistress, Mary, and Fanny Withers, a rich and influential socialite who is persuaded to adopt Kitty's cause and uses her resources and charm to secure a lawyer. The sensational trial that follows will decide the fate of Kitty and her children--and bond three extraordinary yet very different women together in their quest for justice. Based on little-known true events and brought vividly to life by Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist Jack Ford, here is an astonishing account of a time when the traditions of the Old South still thrived, a treacherous journey toward freedom--and a testament to determination, friendship, and courage.


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"Once old Mastuh be dead, you be workin' in the fields just like the rest of 'em. That day comin' soon." Two decades before the Civil War, a middle-class farmer named Samuel Maddox lies on his deathbed. Elsewhere in his Virginia home, a young woman named Kitty knows her life is about to change. She is one of the Maddox family's slaves--and Samuel's biological daughter. Whe "Once old Mastuh be dead, you be workin' in the fields just like the rest of 'em. That day comin' soon." Two decades before the Civil War, a middle-class farmer named Samuel Maddox lies on his deathbed. Elsewhere in his Virginia home, a young woman named Kitty knows her life is about to change. She is one of the Maddox family's slaves--and Samuel's biological daughter. When Samuel's wife, Mary, inherits her husband's property, she will own Kitty too, along with Kitty's three small children. Already in her fifties and with no children of her own, Mary Maddox has struggled to accept her husband's daughter, a strong-willed, confident, educated woman who works in the house and has been treated more like family than slave. After Samuel's death, Mary decides to grant Kitty and her children their freedom, and travels with them to Pennsylvania, where she will file papers declaring Kitty's emancipation. Helped on their perilous flight by Quaker families along the Underground Railroad, they finally reach the free state. But Kitty is not yet safe. Dragged back to Virginia by a gang of slave-catchers led by Samuel's own nephew, who is determined to sell her and her children, Kitty takes a defiant step: charging the younger Maddox with kidnapping and assault. On the surface, the move is brave yet hopeless. But Kitty has allies--her former mistress, Mary, and Fanny Withers, a rich and influential socialite who is persuaded to adopt Kitty's cause and uses her resources and charm to secure a lawyer. The sensational trial that follows will decide the fate of Kitty and her children--and bond three extraordinary yet very different women together in their quest for justice. Based on little-known true events and brought vividly to life by Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist Jack Ford, here is an astonishing account of a time when the traditions of the Old South still thrived, a treacherous journey toward freedom--and a testament to determination, friendship, and courage.

30 review for Chariot on the Mountain

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    4.5 stars I’ve mentioned before in my reviews about how much I enjoy knowing the inspiration for a story and Jack Ford did not disappoint me as he wonderfully describes in his note at the end of this book how Kitty Payne’s story first came to him. Ford’s affinity for courthouses is natural given his background and long career in law and it was while visiting a courthouse from the 1800’s in a small village in Virginia that he first discovered Kitty Payne’s story. He read a plaque that said “KITTY 4.5 stars I’ve mentioned before in my reviews about how much I enjoy knowing the inspiration for a story and Jack Ford did not disappoint me as he wonderfully describes in his note at the end of this book how Kitty Payne’s story first came to him. Ford’s affinity for courthouses is natural given his background and long career in law and it was while visiting a courthouse from the 1800’s in a small village in Virginia that he first discovered Kitty Payne’s story. He read a plaque that said “KITTY PAYNE***FREEDOM LOST AND REGAINED” and a brief description of her journey. Thus began his interest and subsequent research that led to this remarkable fictional depiction of Kitty Payne. She was born to a slave woman, fathered by the master, Sam Maddox. When Maddox dies, his death bed wish to his wife Mary is that she free Kitty and her three children. Things become complicated when Maddox’s vile nephew tries to contest the will and get ownership of all of his uncle’s assets including his slaves. What follows is a perilous journey on the Underground Railroad with slave catchers on their trail, as Mary tries to follow through with her husband’s wishes by taking Kitty and her children to Pennsylvania to declare their freedom. While this is the story of one woman, it is so much more. It’s a story that reflects the time and place, the acceptance and rejection of slavery, a story on one level of unfailing friendship and on another level the goodness and courage of the many strangers along the way who risked their lives to bring slaves to freedom. It’s also a legal drama, skillfully drawn by Ford in the riveting court proceedings at the end. It’s a well researched work of historical fiction with the majority of the characters representing actual people and the majority of the events based on fact. This would have been 5 stars if weren’t for the initial feel of being over written with way too many adjectives in the early chapters. I don’t want to sound picky and I’m mentioning it here because the writing got so much better and the story so much more captivating . I would recommend that if you read it and this bothers you at first, keep reading because this book is so worth the time. I’m so glad I continued. This amazing story of a courageous woman took me out of a 3 star slump! Highly recommended. I received an advanced copy of this book from Kensington Books through NetGalley.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    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 b 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. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  3. 3 out of 5

    Jenny

    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 rich 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

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    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 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    Based on the true story of Kitty Payne, this story takes place 20 years before the Civil War. When Samuel Maddox dies, he leaves his estate to his wife, Mary. All Samuel's slaves are now Mary's property. But Samuel last death bed request was that Mary free Kitty and her three children. Kitty is Samuel's biological child, a child that came about because of Samuel's relationship with a slave woman, a woman that Samuel later sold, much to Mary's relief. Mary had long suspected Samuel's relationship Based on the true story of Kitty Payne, this story takes place 20 years before the Civil War. When Samuel Maddox dies, he leaves his estate to his wife, Mary. All Samuel's slaves are now Mary's property. But Samuel last death bed request was that Mary free Kitty and her three children. Kitty is Samuel's biological child, a child that came about because of Samuel's relationship with a slave woman, a woman that Samuel later sold, much to Mary's relief. Mary had long suspected Samuel's relationship with the slave woman, even though Samuel had denied it. With Samuel's death bed request, Mary now knows the truth of what she had long suspected. Maddox's nephew, Sam will try to prevent his Aunt Mary's emancipation of Kitty and the chikdren. What Mary does and the court battle that ensued is now a matter of history. How Jack Ford tells the story is as engaging and interesting as the historical facts would suggest. Mary's character is most fascinating to me. Against the culture of her time and the speculation of her neighbors, Mary stands fast against the tide of Virginia's politics. How difficult this must have been! Mary was brave and very unique in her willingness to be stigmatized for her support of Kitty, the result of her husband's infidelity. What does Mary stand to gain, because she has her standing in the community to lose. As Ford will show, Mary has her self respect to gain, and her own sense of integrity. Kitty has everything to gain, and shows herself to be truly courageous, unflinching in the face of whatever comes her way. Kitty has been educated, taken into the house and taught how to read and write. Kitty feels that freedom will be worth whatever it costs. The language and argument of both lawyers in this case reflect two very different viewpoints. Since men found the language to support slavery, it makes me wonder about the nature of justice and the language of law. Can language be bent to suit any need and the law to support any cause? I think these are questions we must still ask ourselves today. What does freedom look like? For Kitty, it looked like self determination, and not having to fear losing her connection with her children by being sold as property. That is so huge and something that I take for granted every day of my life. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette

    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 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 these 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    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 en 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    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 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.

  9. 3 out of 5

    KayG

    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 NetGal 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tia

    Based on little-known true events, this astonishing account from Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist Jack Ford vividly recreates a treacherous journey toward freedom, a time when the traditions of the Old South still thrived—and is a testament to determination, friendship, and courage . . . from the synopsis 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 glori Based on little-known true events, this astonishing account from Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist Jack Ford vividly recreates a treacherous journey toward freedom, a time when the traditions of the Old South still thrived—and is a testament to determination, friendship, and courage . . . from the synopsis 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. I was provided an eARC from Kensington via Netgalley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Anderson

    CHARIOT ON THE MOUNTAIN is a fictional story based on the real life of Kitty Payne who was a young, multiracial, freed slave woman who had to fight for her rights in American court before the Civil War years. The story goes through the ins and outs of plantation and farm lives of slaves in Virginia in the early 1800's. Kitty's own mother had been sold away from her when she was very small and so she was determined this wouldn't happen to her three little ones. The story explains very well how pe CHARIOT ON THE MOUNTAIN is a fictional story based on the real life of Kitty Payne who was a young, multiracial, freed slave woman who had to fight for her rights in American court before the Civil War years. The story goes through the ins and outs of plantation and farm lives of slaves in Virginia in the early 1800's. Kitty's own mother had been sold away from her when she was very small and so she was determined this wouldn't happen to her three little ones. The story explains very well how people can be free but still kept from opportunity by the color of their skin. The title, CHARIOT on the MOUNTAIN are some lines from a negro spiritual song. The story touches on the subjects of runaway slaves, freed slaves being kidnapped and the organization called the Underground Rail Road that helped people escape from slavery. The author, Jack Ford, came across Kitty's story at an old courthouse one day and decided to investigate and share her story. Way before civil rights activists such as Rosa Parks, there was Kitty Payne. I received this book as an advance reading copy via a give away on the Goodreads website. I liked the story for it's fast pace. I also liked the story for it's short chapters that kept the drama and the action neatly contained in an easily managed format for quick comprehension of the subject matter. I enjoyed the book and I read it through in my spare moments during a 24 hour time span. That means I actually stayed up late and got up early to read it. I gave the story five stars and think it would be a great movie.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    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,manhandle 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    4 1/2 stars but I'm rounding up to 5. The main reason for the deduction of stars is that the story was slow in some places and a bit repetitive at times. Full review to come if life ever slows down enough to sit down and write.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    Kitty's story takes place a about 20 years before the war between the states. Kitty was a real person and this story is full of historical information with some fictional conversations that may have taken place. The facts are documented very well and Mr. Ford has done a masterful job of weaving them into a believable story. Set in Virginia, Kitty is the daughter of her master and a slave woman. She has been raised in the house, educated and allowed to have a relationship and children. But what is Kitty's story takes place a about 20 years before the war between the states. Kitty was a real person and this story is full of historical information with some fictional conversations that may have taken place. The facts are documented very well and Mr. Ford has done a masterful job of weaving them into a believable story. Set in Virginia, Kitty is the daughter of her master and a slave woman. She has been raised in the house, educated and allowed to have a relationship and children. But what is going to happen when her master dies? Will his widow sell them just to not have to face her husband's proof of infidelity? Mary Maddox was a wonderful lady. She decides to honor her husband's last wish which was to free Kitty and her children.  To do so she must work with the underground railroad and take Kitty and her children to freedom in Pennsylvania. Along the way the two women develop a relationship based on trust, kindness and love. But we have to have a bad guy and that guy was the master's own evil nephew who has no plans to let Kitty remain a free woman when she would fetch a nice price to help clear his many debts. No sooner is Kitty a free woman than another man of color sells her out and she is beaten and tossed in a wagon and taken back home. But dear nephew has no idea what a few women on a mission can accomplish. This book was hard to read in some parts, but true. Miraculous things happen when women get together and refuse to back down. The fact that this is some well documented history makes the story even better.  I won't spoil any of it for you though. It is a wonderful story and I am richer for having read it! Netgalley/Kensington July 31, 2018

  15. 3 out of 5

    Mary

    This was a very good book. The story is based on the real life of Kitty Payne, a woman born into slavery in 1816, the author saw a historical plaque about Kitty and found his next story. I hard a hard time starting the story because it starts with the capturing of Kitty and her 3children in Pennsylvania. I’m glad I kept on reading!

  16. 3 out of 5

    Corine

    The best part of this book was the ending segment. I had a difficult time with the pacing and long winded descriptions. This is a great story, but the author fails to deliver it in an emotionally fitting, gripping way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lenore Riegel

    There are some hints of plot in this review, but I do not think they will spoil the excitement of this book at all. This is the third - and best - Jack Ford historical novel I have read. It is amazing to me how he finds amazing historic trials and turns them into literary gold. I was stunned to learn through reading Chariot on the Mountain that this fierce young woman challenged a white slaver in court - years before the Civil War. To find out how she won her freedom in court made me proud to be There are some hints of plot in this review, but I do not think they will spoil the excitement of this book at all. This is the third - and best - Jack Ford historical novel I have read. It is amazing to me how he finds amazing historic trials and turns them into literary gold. I was stunned to learn through reading Chariot on the Mountain that this fierce young woman challenged a white slaver in court - years before the Civil War. To find out how she won her freedom in court made me proud to be a lawyer. But even apart from an incredible piece of history, this novel is a great read and so cinematic that I would be surprised if this story doesn't eventually explode on the large or small screen. (On Twitter I said I would eat the cover if it isn't picked up by some smart network or studio.) What the young slave Kitty has to do to save herself and her children is dramatic enough, but the journey of her white mistress from plantation owner to abolitionist is just as powerful. I loved both of these women and the lawyer who helps them. Reminded me a little of the journey of Huck Finn. I highly recommend this novel. The emotion doesn't end with the last chapter, but continues as you follow up by finding out the rest of the life stories of these two strong and loving women. Chariot on the Mountain

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Mr. Ford makes his living talking, he is a frequent commentator on all the major networks as well as teaches legal seminars at Yale and other institutions. He did practice law within the court system. This background and a love for history led him to discover the story of Kitty Payne, who was the daughter of her master and when he passed, the tremendous efforts that his wife, Mary took to free her (manumission). This was an interesting story, well told, with a great amount of details in certain p Mr. Ford makes his living talking, he is a frequent commentator on all the major networks as well as teaches legal seminars at Yale and other institutions. He did practice law within the court system. This background and a love for history led him to discover the story of Kitty Payne, who was the daughter of her master and when he passed, the tremendous efforts that his wife, Mary took to free her (manumission). This was an interesting story, well told, with a great amount of details in certain places. Mary went to extraordinary efforts to be successful in trying to get Kitty and her 3 small children from Virginia to Pennsylvania (a free state). She put her own life on the line and suffered tremendous hardship (and she was elderly at the time), but was determined that Kitty be allowed to live free as this was her husband's dying request. The dialogue between Kitty and Mary as they built trust and worked together using the Underground Railroad to escape was plausible. The author wanted to highlight Kitty Payne's experiences (she did run away shortly after her father died, thinking she would be sold as her mother had been shortly after giving birth at Mary's request. I think the real hero in this story was Mary or that she should get equal acclaim. She went against her neighbors beliefs, her own beliefs because she talked to Kitty after she was returned from running away and realized that as a Christian, she had no right to own people as property. Shortly after setting Kitty free, Kitty was captured by a family member who was challenging the will of her deceased father. There was a trial and shockingly, the jury asked the Judge to decide. He cleverly did all he was able to do using earlier law so Kitty could be freed in Virgina as well. Mary set all her slaves free. Married a man 30 years her senior, who died a few years later. No records exist as to what happened to Mary after that. Kitty returned to Pennsylvania and worked as a maid. Her pay was minor and thus her young daughters became maids in other households. A nice look at history, I am glad I read it. I have read many books on American Slavery; for those who haven't this would be a good start.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    The synopsis provided really covers the whole plot, but what this book boils down to are Mary Maddox’s efforts to free Kitty and her children, first physically and then legally. In the first half especially, there is a great deal of emphasis on Mary’s sacrifices. This immediately bothered me, because look, I just don’t want to read a redemption story about a slave-owning, white widow. We are not talking about an abolitionist. We are talking about a woman who, at least initially, felt she had ear The synopsis provided really covers the whole plot, but what this book boils down to are Mary Maddox’s efforts to free Kitty and her children, first physically and then legally. In the first half especially, there is a great deal of emphasis on Mary’s sacrifices. This immediately bothered me, because look, I just don’t want to read a redemption story about a slave-owning, white widow. We are not talking about an abolitionist. We are talking about a woman who, at least initially, felt she had earned her husband’s biological daughter’s loyalty because they had taken her out of the fields and put her to work in the house instead and let her learn to read and write—‘treated her like family’. A woman whose inner thoughts include things like ‘I’ve always treated our slaves well’. I’m sorry, you don’t get brownie points for doing chattel slavery ‘less bad’ than your neighbor. Anyway, as the story progressed we see more white people helping or just being kind to Kitty, more kind than they would normally be to an enslaved person. In the Author’s Note at the end of the book he writes about discovering the basics of the true story and what questions it brought to mind, such as: Why would the mistress continue to fight for Kitty’s freedom after the kidnapping, placing her own social standing in deeper jeopardy? How did the mistress enlist the aid of the richest woman in the county, a slave-owning symbol of traditional Southern society, in their battle? Why would an established, pillar-of-the-community lawyer agree to represent a slave in her unprecedented legal challenge? And, most important, just who was this extraordinary woman named Kitty—a slave who had the courage to challenge the laws and traditions, both written and unwritten, of the time? The problem is that last question doesn’t get answered because there is so little character development and in attempted to answer those other questions we end up with what feels like the inverse of the ‘magical negro’ trope. Instead of the black character coming to the rescue of the white protagonist, we have an enslaved woman who is just so innately special that all the white characters want to help her. Now, I understand that this story has some factual basis, but if it feels like a cliché maybe it isn’t the best story to tell. Or the right focus. Furthermore, the simple, straightforward prose and short chapters that increasingly seemed to be written for maximum drama didn’t bother me at first, but eventually the style started to feel like a Dan Brown novel. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but regardless I found the style ill-suited to a historical novel about slavery.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mary Cullen

    4.5 stars. This is a very good historical fiction based on events occurring twenty years before the Civil War. It is a very quick read - I finished it on a short flight - but very interesting and keeps you turning the pages. Highly recommend to lovers of historical fiction.

  21. 3 out of 5

    Steven Zacharius

    Wonderful book based on a little known slave and deals with her being emancipated and her journey to freedom via the underground railroad.

  22. 3 out of 5

    Marykaye

    I have always liked reading pre Civil War and Civil War novels and Chariot on the Mountain was no exception. It tells the story of Kitty, a slave, and how it came about that she took a white man to court. This of course, was unheard of in Virginia at the time. This book is fiction, but the story is based on true events. and many actual events as can be documented. I found this book extremely interesting and enjoyed it very much. I received this book free from Goodreads for a honest opinion.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I am drawn to stories that are based on actual events in our history, and was glad that I was able to get this book to read and review. For anyone else who likes to read this genre, please add this to your list. The book tells the story of a black woman who was born into slavery as the daughter of her master and a slave woman. But the story-telling doesn't begin there, it begins with the master's death and his wish that his wife, Mary, free Kitty and her children. This story takes place pre-Civi I am drawn to stories that are based on actual events in our history, and was glad that I was able to get this book to read and review. For anyone else who likes to read this genre, please add this to your list. The book tells the story of a black woman who was born into slavery as the daughter of her master and a slave woman. But the story-telling doesn't begin there, it begins with the master's death and his wish that his wife, Mary, free Kitty and her children. This story takes place pre-Civil War, in the turbulent days when the northern states were against slavery and the southern states believed it was their God-given right to own slaves. The struggles that Mary goes through in both conscience and morality in deciding to follow through with his wishes, and the battles she has to wage against the nephew to make this happen attest to the inner strength of a woman who knows what she is doing is the right thing. She also has to get Kitty to trust that she truly is working hard to make this happen for her and her children. In the story-telling the author builds upon the growing trust and friendship between the two women as they work together to get Kitty and children to Pennsylvania through the Underground Railway where she is sure to find her freedom. However, the devious nephew has other plans for who he considers to be "his" slaves and Mary and Kitty find themselves facing other types of obstacles. Its a story about the determination of two women and how they ultimately have to challenge the laws surrounding slavery and freedom. What I also appreciated about this book was the author's explanation of how he found out about this black woman named Kitty and how he searched out the details needed to write this book. He also followed through with the "what happened after" story of Kitty and her children. Please be sure to read this section also. I received an ARC from NetGalley of this book in return for my honest review, which this is.

  24. 3 out of 5

    Gianna

    I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Based on a true story, Chariot on the Mountain is the adventurous, tragic and at the same time brave story of emancipated slave Kitty pane. Decades before the Civil War, Samuel Maddox, plantation owner, dies on his bed with one last wish to his wife: that his illegal daughter that he had with a slave woman be freed, along with her three children. While his wife, Mar, is more than willing to do that I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Based on a true story, Chariot on the Mountain is the adventurous, tragic and at the same time brave story of emancipated slave Kitty pane. Decades before the Civil War, Samuel Maddox, plantation owner, dies on his bed with one last wish to his wife: that his illegal daughter that he had with a slave woman be freed, along with her three children. While his wife, Mar, is more than willing to do that, there are people who will insist on preventing that from happening. Maddox's nephew has evil pans to take over the farm-and the slaves that come along with it. So, when Mary decides to help Kitty and her children with the help of the Underground Railroad, a wild slave hunt begins. But the women are determined- so who is going to win this war of will? Chariot on the Mountain is a story everyone should read. Incredibly narrated, and with the use of realistic speech in the dialogue, the story transports you back in a time when slavery was the norm, and freedom for a slave was a dream that rarely came true. The portrayal of the story's heroes was exceptional, making the readers empathies with Kitty and Mary almost immediately. This is a moving story, both historically accurate and interesting to the very last page. This is a story about struggles, pain, and a woman's fight for freedom. Chariot on the Mountain is the example which proves that historical fiction can be as thrilling and attention-grasping as a fantasy or mystery book. Strongly recommended for everyone.

  25. 3 out of 5

    MakBoo

    Beautiful historical account of courage and allyship Like stated in the Author’s Note, I am surprised that Kitty’s case is not taught throughout the country! This is a great testament to the rich tapestry of untold stories about the human experience. The novel was riveting although I found the writing to be a bit overhanded-handed...and obvious (the reminder that even free blacks needed to give up their seat in the courthouse, the fleeting smile from the judge at the end). I found myself pausing Beautiful historical account of courage and allyship Like stated in the Author’s Note, I am surprised that Kitty’s case is not taught throughout the country! This is a great testament to the rich tapestry of untold stories about the human experience. The novel was riveting although I found the writing to be a bit overhanded-handed...and obvious (the reminder that even free blacks needed to give up their seat in the courthouse, the fleeting smile from the judge at the end). I found myself pausing often contemplating what it means to be a white ally - albeit savior both literally and figuratively - in the antebellum south and a white (male) writer in 2018 telling a story about female protagonists. How would Toni Morrison write this account? What is going on in the depths of Kitty’s spirit when she makes the decision to sue her captor? Her declaration during the court proceedings asserting her status as a free woman had me longing to learn more about her inner strength and courage. I’d recommend this book and look forward to discussions from diverse reviewers, especially black women.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dustin Hood

    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 mo 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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I received a complementary review copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own. "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 I received a complementary review copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own. "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!

  28. 3 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a good story but what makes it exceptional is that it's based on a true story. Kitty, born a slave in Virginia is freed by her mistress after her husband's death. That freedom is complicated by Samuel Maddox' nephew who brings suit against Mary Maddox trying to take the farm away from her. Mary helps Kitty get to Pennsylvania with the help of the Underground Railroad. The nephew finds Kitty and returns her to Virginia claiming her as property as a runaway slave. Kitty, now free has the i This is a good story but what makes it exceptional is that it's based on a true story. Kitty, born a slave in Virginia is freed by her mistress after her husband's death. That freedom is complicated by Samuel Maddox' nephew who brings suit against Mary Maddox trying to take the farm away from her. Mary helps Kitty get to Pennsylvania with the help of the Underground Railroad. The nephew finds Kitty and returns her to Virginia claiming her as property as a runaway slave. Kitty, now free has the incredible courage to sue the nephew who kidnapped her and her children to enslave them again. The trial is the most fascinating part of the book. A slave being defended by a white attorney and backed by two white women, both slave owners and being judged by a jury of 12 white men. Truly a fascinating story of slavery, courage and white people stepping out of their comfort range and doing the right thing.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Carl Williams

    I received a copy of this book, free, through Goodread Giveaways. This is a story of historic fiction, imagining the experience of a Virginia woman who had been enslaved suing the man who had attempted to kidnap her back into slavery in the late 1840s. The novel is structured in short, snapshot, chapters that seem to be currently popular. On one hand keep this style keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, and is easy to follow if one is reading while traveling or on vacation. What suffers, I think I received a copy of this book, free, through Goodread Giveaways. This is a story of historic fiction, imagining the experience of a Virginia woman who had been enslaved suing the man who had attempted to kidnap her back into slavery in the late 1840s. The novel is structured in short, snapshot, chapters that seem to be currently popular. On one hand keep this style keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, and is easy to follow if one is reading while traveling or on vacation. What suffers, I think, is depth of character studies, subtly of plot, and sophisticated setting. I read an advanced uncorrected edition and so will not nit-pick internal inconsistencies or historic inaccuracies that I’m sure will be caught in the final edition. The story of a brave woman, fighting the odds in a culture that doesn’t recognize her humanity—a story we should all know.

  30. 3 out of 5

    Claire Talbot

    Set two decades before the Civil War, a slave named Kitty Maddox lives on a Virginia plantation. When her master (and her biological father) dies, her mistress decides to honor her husband's last wishes, and free Kitty and her children. Taking a trip on the Underground Railroad, the women travel to Pennsylvania where Kitty is freed, and placed with a freed black man's family. A greedy nephew decides to dispute the widow Mary's will, and travels to Pennsylvania kidnapping Kitty and her children, Set two decades before the Civil War, a slave named Kitty Maddox lives on a Virginia plantation. When her master (and her biological father) dies, her mistress decides to honor her husband's last wishes, and free Kitty and her children. Taking a trip on the Underground Railroad, the women travel to Pennsylvania where Kitty is freed, and placed with a freed black man's family. A greedy nephew decides to dispute the widow Mary's will, and travels to Pennsylvania kidnapping Kitty and her children, with the intent to sell them at a slave market in South Carolina. After being rescued, Kitty takes an unprecedented course of action, and files suit against her kidnapper. The story is based on true events, and is interesting to follow.

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