The prequel to this novel, After Bondage and War, was its inspiration. The characters in that work taught us what we needed to know, drove us forward and compelled us to tell the rest of the story. In a generational cycle, the young ones from there become the old ones at the end of this sequel as the new generation lives their lives in America's continuing tumultuous historical times. As some leaves fall and others grow in their place, so too with the generations of flesh and blood, one dies and another is born.
The focal point of After Bondage and War was 1865, the end of the Civil War. For Hanna's Promise, 1865 is a retrospective reference point.
Two colored women are the heroines of the story. They are sisters - one spiritual and one intellectual. Their brother is the hero. Their father is their inspiration before his death. Two affluent southern white couples provide the kindly foundation to make the story possible.
We end the story corporeally in Ohio where the last one ended but about 40 years later. Spiritually, the story ends simultaneously where it began in Alabama, not far in time or place from Faulkner’s imaginary world in Mississippi.
Whether it's called a novel or something else, all fictional work, if based on a particular period and its people and events, is historical fiction.
- David Claire Jennings
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About The Story
Hanna Drish is the heroine of the story. She was born in 1856, five years before the start of the Civil War. She died at 86 on my birthday, November 25, 1942.
Where and how she got her name and what she did with her life, with all its motivation and mysticism, provides the answers left open in After Bondage and War.
Where and how she got her spirit is uneqivocally, beyond any doubt, explained to us in her story. When we learn it, we see how simple it is to understand, but so difficult for anyone to do.
I will give you here, now, one insight into Hanna's spirit. She could live her life following Micah's admonition - to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with her God.
More than Faulkner's Dilsey and Harper Lee's Calpurnia, Hanna Drish not only endured, she made a difference in her family, in her community and in her country.
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