The Right-Hand Shore

By Christopher Tilghman; Tilghman
(Farrar Straus Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374203481, 368pp.)

Publication Date: April 24, 2012

List Price: $27.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the May 2012 Indie Next List
“This tale opens in 1922 with Miss Mary, the stern matriarch of The Retreat -- the massive Mason family property on the Chesapeake Bay -- interviewing Edward Mason, one of two distant descendants of the original immigrant owner, as she decides to whom she will leave it all when she dies. Told in a series of vignettes, the homestead's proudest as well as most brutal moments are recounted by those whose lives are intertwined -- for better or for worse -- with the Masons and with The Retreat. A vivid and haunting look at the power of family and place by a master storyteller.”
-- Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI


Description

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 the Author
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.




Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What were your first impressions of Mary? How did your perception of her shift as you watched her life unfold?

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