The Freedom of the Soul
Tracey Bateman
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Buy *The Freedom of the Soul: The Penbrook Diaries* by Tracey Bateman online

The Freedom of the Soul: The Penbrook Diaries
Tracey Bateman
Barbour Books
288 pages
November 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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A woman seeking to escape the ravages of a poverty-stricken past…A man driven to hold on to what’s rightfully his…and the yellowed pages that change their lives forever.
After the death of her beloved grandfather, Shae Penbrook finds herself an heiress to a rundown farm with a dilapidated house and barn. Should she sell for twice its worth to the rival family that has persecuted her own family for generations? Or should she go to Georgia and lay claim to the Penbrook House since there are no other Penbrooks alive to lay claim to it?

Alone in this world at twenty-nine years old, she searches the attic for any valuables before agreeing to sell. What she finds are the diaries of her ancestors. She doesn’t really feel so alone now and ventures from Oregon to Georgia on a stinky, hot bus.

Upon reaching her destination, she meets Jonas Riley, who is currently staying at Penbrook mansion (his father Daniel was willed it), and the two don’t meet in a promising fashion. The Freedom of the Soul is set in 1949, while social unrest over discrimination of blacks is still a much-heated topic; separate restaurants, bathrooms, hospitals and divide the two races, treating blacks as inferiors. Alternately, we are given looks into the past of 1847 as it is revealed in the family diaries.

Jonas, in protection of a black friend who was beaten by the KKK and left for dead, goes hot-headedly to the no-account local sheriff. The sheriff nearly beats him to death, leaving him lying in his own vomit in a cell without legal representation, or medical attention.

Shae tries to bail Jonas out, but the sheriff will not set a bail and threatens to jail her, too, if she doesn’t get out of his office. Shae calls Jonas’ father to apprise him of the situation. Daniel summons his attorney, and the two go to the jail to right the situation and threaten legal action. A brief relationship between Jonas and Shae develops, but she leaves for Oregon again, anyway.

The Freedom of the Soul actually contains two love stories, one as exciting as the other. Tracey Bateman has real talent for character development and causing the reader to become emotionally involved. But the story seems choppy at times due to the way the chapters are divided. The production values of this book are very good, including the perfect cover (which actually represents the two main characters) and scrollwork on each page.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Brenda A. Snodgrass, 2007

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