‘An ambitious and vital novel with an epic sweep: a complex, timely story about liberty, equality, identity.
This book is an act of salvage, performed with great skill: cleanly written, sharp-eyed, undeceived.’ – Hilary Mantel
In a London graveyard in 1857, Harriet Small is approached by a stranger, an unwanted intruder who insists that she hear him out . . . in the will of a woman she only barely remembers, Harriet has been left an unusual collection of papers: her father’s True Narrative of his life after escaping slavery and his journey into the heart of revolutionary Ireland.
From war in South Carolina to genteel drawing rooms in Kildare, from the discomfort and boredom of Antigua to the snow-covered nothingness of Canada, the slave-owning territories along the Mississippi to a printing house in Hamburg and the colonial politics of London to the intrigue and simmering resentments of Dublin, Words to Shape My Name is about hope, failure and resilience, an adventurous novel of great intelligence and awareness that will resonate today.