cover image A Thousand Moons

A Thousand Moons

Sebastian Barry. Viking, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2310-3

Barry’s mournful sequel to Days Without End focuses on Winona Cole as she navigates the dangers of Reconstruction-era Tennessee and carries the memory of her dead Lakota family. Surrounded by ex-rebels too disgruntled by the Union victory and abolition to “breathe the air of peace,” Winona has a hard time telling criminals from law enforcement in formerly-Confederate West Tennessee, as rebels regain the right to vote and black men freed from slavery find their newfound rights attacked. After Winona and former slave Tennyson Bouguereau are inexplicably beaten, she thinks back on her warrior mother and wonders what bravery and justice mean to an impoverished, Native woman that the local whites see as “closer to a wolf than a woman.” As Winona rides out with the Freedmen militia to avenge the attacks, she narrowly cheats death, leading her to a spiritual experience that connects her with ancestors. In Winona, who sees both the beauty and the piercing loss of her world, Barry has created a vivid if didactic heroine (“Whitemen in the main just see slaves and Indians. They don’t see the single souls”). This earnest tale will stay with readers. (Apr.)