Remembered, Yvonne Battle-Felton’s debut novel, tells the compelling tale of Spring, a former slave, who is forced to confront her past as her son lies dying in a Philadelphia hospital. Set against the backdrop of overt discrimination and racial tensions of early-twentieth-century America, it gives voice to the “whole heap of stories [that] don’t get told."
Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, it’s not hard to see why. Spring’s voice reaches from the page and draws you into a tale of shocking brutality and realities of slavery that Battle-Felton doesn’t shy away from. One of the most striking things about this novel is its unflinching depiction of the depravities endemic within this period. It’s never unnecessarily graphic, but it makes for a difficult read in places – when discussing rape and the deliberate death of infants – and this is what makes it such a gripping narrative. A subject of this nature should not be easy or light-hearted, and the questions it poses about heritage, unspoken voices and motherhood are intensely thought-provoking.
As a lover of historical fiction, I anticipated enjoying Remembered for that aspect alone. Meticulously researched, it did not disappoint. Yet more than that, it is a poignant sketch of human character and its resilience in the face of immense hardship, that is both fascinating and pertinent. Truth is at the heart of this novel and for that reason, it’s a must-read.
About the reviewer
Charis Buckingham predominately writes Young Adult and historical fiction, and loves to sing and read. She lives in Leicester, having recently graduated from the University of Leicester with an MA in Creative Writing.