When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed
The end of slavery is no guarantee of freedom. When Clayton McGhee journeys north with his parents and grandparents in search of a new life, they must build a homestead with their own labour and defend their right to own land from powerful vested interests and deep rooted prejudice. Thirty years later, Clayton is still forced to defend his livelihood and his family’s safety from racism and greed. But life is more complex now, as the men of influence in this increasingly mixed community find to their cost. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed is a riveting adventure story about fathers and sons and the difficult moral choices which resound down the generations as America moves slowly towards freedom and equality after the death of Lincoln.
‘Bradley Greenburg holds up to the light what may be our keynote American dilemma — the racial tensions that trailed the Civil War — and he turns it into an inventive and thrilling heartbreak. Here is a novel with 20/20 detail vision: it sees every particular of small-town life, business and family, identity and home. Clayton McGhee is one of the signature characters in contemporary historical fiction.’
- Darin Strauss, Chang & Eng and Half a Life
‘Set at a time when race relations were particularly complicated, in that they were still being negotiated after the abolition of slavery, it shows us an America that does not know what kind of country it is going to be in the future, and how factors like loyalty, privilege, fear and pressure to conform all played their part.’
- Alastair Mabbott, The Herald
‘Vivid and compelling.’
- Victoria Best, Shiny New Books