Forbidden Brownstones
by Clifford Browder
E.L. Marker

""...lack of decent places to take her, oppressed as never before by the color line..."

What was it like to be a black person in the mid-nineteenth century in the northern part of the United States? Browder's fictional account gives readers a glimpse into that world. The story is told from Junius Fox's point of view. He is a young man, circa the 1870s, living and working in New York City and the subject of a tale that is completely original and compelling.

Fox is a free black man in white America. He yearns for respect, ownership over his own life, and the ability to make a good living. Becoming know as the best butler in New York City, albeit butler to a high-class whorehouse, he manages the brownstone. But, of course, Fox does not own his own home, nor is he master over his own daily life. He answers his employer's every call and assists her in her every whim. He is almost satisfied but never completely. "My anger subsided but didn't die. It was always there: a quiet, bitter resentment. I learned to live with it; I had to."

Not only is the story unique, but the writing is superb. Browder's work flows, and the story is well organized. The vocabulary is impressive. Many readers may even learn a few new words, like "rumbustious," for example. The less common words are not presumptuously used, and readers won't need a dictionary to read the book because the vocabulary is used in context superbly. No one—white, black, or any other color—will be disappointed by this book. It is an easy read, insightful, and doesn't read like a bitter soliloquy. The tone is perfect, which given the subject matter, is no mean feat.

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