The Right-Hand Shore by Christopher Tilghman

85%

8 Critic Reviews

...this is a hugely enjoyable saga, elegantly told.
-Financial Times

Synopsis

A masterful novel that confronts the dilemmas of race, family, and forbidden love in the wake of America’s Civil War

Fifteen years after the publication of his acclaimed novel Mason’s Retreat, Christopher Tilghman returns to the Mason family and the Chesapeake Bay in The Right-Hand Shore.

It is 1920, and Edward Mason is making a call upon Miss Mary Bayly, the current owner of the legendary Mason family estate, the Retreat. Miss Mary is dying. She plans to give the Retreat to the closest direct descendant of the original immigrant owner that she can find. Edward believes he can charm the old lady, secure the estate and be back in Baltimore by lunchtime.

Instead, over the course of a long day, he hears the stories that will forever bind him and his family to the land. He hears of Miss Mary’s grandfather brutally selling all his slaves in 1857 in order to avoid the reprisals he believes will come with Emancipation. He hears of the doomed efforts by Wyatt Bayly, Miss Mary’s father, to turn the Retreat into a vast peach orchard, and of Miss Mary and her brother growing up in a fractured and warring household. He learns of Abel Terrell, son of free blacks who becomes head orchardist, and whose family becomes intimately connected to the Baylys and to the Mason legacy.

The drama in this richly textured novel proceeds through vivid set pieces: on rural nineteenth-century industry; on a boyhood on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; on the unbreakable divisions of race and class; and, finally, on two families attempting to save a son and a daughter from the dangers of their own innocent love. The result is a radiant work of deep insight and peerless imagination about the central dilemma of American history.

 The Right-Hand Shore is a New York Times Notable Book of 2012.

 

About Christopher Tilghman

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Christopher Tilghman is the author of two short-story collections, In a Father's Place and The Way People Run, and two novels, Mason's Retreat and Roads of the Heart. Currently the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia, he and his wife, the writer Caroline Preston, live in Charlottesville, Virginia.
 
Published April 24, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 369 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Right-Hand Shore
All: 8 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Below average
May 01 2012

Tilghman’s trademark nuanced observation and insight are abundantly apparent, but there’s no real center to this insistently portentous parable of multiple blight.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Fernanda Eberstadt on Apr 27 2012

Tilghman unfolds his harsh lesson with precision, delicacy and startling humor.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Mar 12 2012

The tale’s descent into tragedy is nevertheless beautiful...

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on May 22 2012

He so fully inhabits the marshy souls of his characters, there's never any of those awkward moments...Tilghman remains "the real deal."

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Financial Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Evans on May 05 2012

...this is a hugely enjoyable saga, elegantly told.

Read Full Review of The Right-Hand Shore | See more reviews from Financial Times

Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by John Freeman on Jun 03 2012

In its best moments, “The Right-Hand Shore” makes this wisdom felt, and it is all too easy to imagine living in such a compromised world.

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The Chestertown Spy

Excellent
Reviewed by Mary Wood on May 03 2012

This novel has the sweep and depth of one of the great engrossing 19th century novels – Dickens, Eliot, even Tolstoy.

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Frogen Yozurt

Good
Apr 28 2012

The result is a radiant work of deep insight and peerless imagination about the central dilemma of American history.

Read Full Review of The Right-Hand Shore

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Susan 5 Sep 2013

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