Holderby’s Landing by J. D. Ferguson #Historical #GoodReads #BookClub

Posted on Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Colonel Thorne enters his bedroom and crosses to the nightstand beside the bed. A small decanter of brandy and empty glass rests there on a silver oval tray with filigree edges. Joshua is withdrawn and introspective. He removes the stopper and agitatedly pours the amber liquid into the awaiting glass. The liqueur captures all the sources of light in the room - yellow-red glowing coals in the fireplace, three candles burning in a small candelabrum before the dresser mirror. He eyes himself, softly reflected in the mirrored surface, as he turns the glass up and downs the contents. He welcomes the mellow burn, but then dejectedly sets the glass aside. He is drinking too much of late and silently admonishes the indulgence as weakness with which he must contend. His selfassessment is interrupted by a soft humming that comes from the opposite corner of the room, and only then does he realize that his lovely Sylpha is behind the screen and attending herself with her nightly ablutions.
Only her outline can be discerned through the thin screen covering, moving as an odd and sometimes jerky shadow cast by the feeble flame from a candle on her wash stand. Only when she moves to a different stance, bends slightly at the waist, and raises one shapely leg to a stool does her chance onlooker see any of her body exposed. But it is enough for the Colonel to appreciate the sight. Caught at angles to a long dressing-mirror on the wall, Sylpha’s well pronounced rear makes it’s tan presence known in repeated reflections; first this way, then that. Accompanied by the soft humming of her improvised tune, the movements resemble a dance; tantalizing enticements. As she presents her rear to the mirror her bending actions show prominent glimpses of dark womanhood between taunt thighs.
Joshua stands still and enjoys his chance entertainment. It is obvious to the man that his beautiful interest is unaware of his presence. Her actions denote that fact well. Oh, Sylpha can be a temptress, right enough, and loves to provoke passions in her lover with play, but this is different. She is just being herself, unaware that anyone is watching, and that in itself makes her movements all the more feminine, all the more sensuous because of their innocence. She writhes and stretches in the act of washing her body, and takes a pleasure in the moistening of her skin and the gentle cooling left behind with each swipe of wet cloth. Joshua can envision the track of water along each gentle curve; the sight of her cleansing each part of her supple form with scented soaps and oils; her matter-of-fact attentions to private parts that, to his masculine nature, hold such mystery and total fascination.
When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. The process is on-going and ever dynamic. Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture. 
One's ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life's story, and as singular as snowflakes. This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby's Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. Holderby's Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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