Under Lee's Shadow
Under Lee's Shadow - my new Work in progress. Enjoy
My new contemporary novel is set at the brink of the Black Lives Matter movement that coalesced at the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia in the summer of 2020. Richmond is conflicted and so is Hillman Smythe, a privileged descendant of founding families in the capital city. Hillman has faced several recent personal setbacks and will be drawn from his comfortable home by a young, black protester, Toni, as well as his gun-toting, far right neighbor Norm, and a haunting memory that has upended the family he cherishes. Under Lee’s Shadow bears down on a focal point during a unique moment in a southern city, its citizens, and a dramatic, national protest, counter protest, and unlooked for virus that changed a nation.
Hillman is reeling from his recent downsizing at the bank where he has worked his whole career, from the loss of his wife of many years, Abigail, who has left him for her doubles partner, and the prospect of protecting his spoiled, world-weary, and health-compromised daughter Hillary, from the violence of the protests outside their home and the deadly virus sweeping the nation. Hillman provides shelter to Toni, one of the protesters who enlightens him on his privileged upbringing and the effects of segregation on people of color. As their friendship evolves, Hillman finds the confidence to move forward in his life and the realization that the history he grew up with was not complete. Hillman is also confronted by his right wing neighbor who is adamant about gun rights and the past president’s victory, and many neighbors who consider the monuments historically justified and items of great beauty. Hillman’s journey during the protests helps him overcome a personal tragedy that undermined his marriage and will enable him to finally write the novel that has eluded him. Under Lee’s Shadow examines the upheaval many Americans faced in 2020, looking through a wry lens of young and old, black and white, privileged and impoverished; all part of the same community and who live under the shadow of a once beloved and larger than life statue.
I have the beutiful print above in my home as a reminder of a special time and place. It's by:
RVA Coffee Stain
The Artwork of Doug Orleski