The Right-Hand Shore: A Novel

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The Right-Hand Shore: A Novel

by Christopher Tilghman

Farrar, Straus And Giroux | November 7, 2013 | Hardcover

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A masterful novel that confronts the dilemmas of race, family, and forbidden love in the wake of America's Civil War

Fifteen years after the publication of his acclaimed novel Mason's Retreat, Christopher Tilghman returns to the Mason family and the Chesapeake Bay in The Right-Hand Shore.

It is 1920, and Edward Mason is making a call upon Miss Mary Bayly, the current owner of the legendary Mason family estate, the Retreat. Miss Mary is dying. She plans to give the Retreat to the closest direct descendant of the original immigrant owner that she can find. Edward believes he can charm the old lady, secure the estate and be back in Baltimore by lunchtime.

Instead, over the course of a long day, he hears the stories that will forever bind him and his family to the land. He hears of Miss Mary's grandfather brutally selling all his slaves in 1857 in order to avoid the reprisals he believes will come with Emancipation. He hears of the doomed efforts by Wyatt Bayly, Miss Mary's father, to turn the Retreat into a vast peach orchard, and of Miss Mary and her brother growing up in a fractured and warring household. He learns of Abel Terrell, son of free blacks who becomes head orchardist, and whose family becomes intimately connected to the Baylys and to the Mason legacy.

The drama in this richly textured novel proceeds through vivid set pieces: on rural nineteenth-century industry; on a boyhood on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; on the unbreakable divisions of race and class; and, finally, on two families attempting to save a son and a daughter from the dangers of their own innocent love. The result is a radiant work of deep insight and peerless imagination about the central dilemma of American history.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.22 × 6.48 × 1.26 in

Published: November 7, 2013

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374203482

ISBN - 13: 9780374203481

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– More About This Product –

The Right-Hand Shore: A Novel

by Christopher Tilghman

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.22 × 6.48 × 1.26 in

Published: November 7, 2013

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374203482

ISBN - 13: 9780374203481

About the Book

Fifteen years after the publication of his acclaimed novel "Mason's Retreat," Tilghman returns to the Chesapeake Bay estate. This richly textured novel proceeds through 19th-century industry and centers on two families attempting to save a son and daughter.

Read from the Book

1   We see Miss Mary Bayly and her distant and much younger cousin Mr. Edward Mason sitting on the porch of the Mansion House on her ancestral farm, Mason’s Retreat. Edward Mason has crossed his legs; one foot, Mary feels, is poised in order for her to admire his English shoes. There is a bit of mud, or worse (or better, as far as Mary would be concerned), on the left toe. The vast porch is bare except for the two wicker armchairs into which they have settled and the butler’s table placed between them, on which his tea, untouched, and hers, unwanted, are getting cold. There is a slight breeze fruited with odors of the Chesapeake: sea grass pollen, clay flats, fish living and dead. It is September 8, 1920, eight o’clock in the morning, and the air above the Chester River is clear enough to reveal the rooflines of the waterman’s village on Kent Island, the silhouettes of the loblollies of Hail Point, the spars and poles of the oyster dredgers. The chairs have been placed so that neither one of them can be distracted by this view. “Certainly,” says Edward Mason. “Indeed. A very sensible arrangement.” What a fool, thinks Miss Mary. She stares at Edward Mason long enough for him to show discomfort, as if those three empty and useless utterances might have contained the seeds of a bad mistake. His mustache, his flushed skin and red hair, his broad, big-eared, needy Mason face; his grand arrival on the porch where she had been wai
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From the Publisher

A masterful novel that confronts the dilemmas of race, family, and forbidden love in the wake of America's Civil War

Fifteen years after the publication of his acclaimed novel Mason's Retreat, Christopher Tilghman returns to the Mason family and the Chesapeake Bay in The Right-Hand Shore.

It is 1920, and Edward Mason is making a call upon Miss Mary Bayly, the current owner of the legendary Mason family estate, the Retreat. Miss Mary is dying. She plans to give the Retreat to the closest direct descendant of the original immigrant owner that she can find. Edward believes he can charm the old lady, secure the estate and be back in Baltimore by lunchtime.

Instead, over the course of a long day, he hears the stories that will forever bind him and his family to the land. He hears of Miss Mary's grandfather brutally selling all his slaves in 1857 in order to avoid the reprisals he believes will come with Emancipation. He hears of the doomed efforts by Wyatt Bayly, Miss Mary's father, to turn the Retreat into a vast peach orchard, and of Miss Mary and her brother growing up in a fractured and warring household. He learns of Abel Terrell, son of free blacks who becomes head orchardist, and whose family becomes intimately connected to the Baylys and to the Mason legacy.

The drama in this richly textured novel proceeds through vivid set pieces: on rural nineteenth-century industry; on a boyhood on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; on the unbreakable divisions of race and class; and, finally, on two families attempting to save a son and a daughter from the dangers of their own innocent love. The result is a radiant work of deep insight and peerless imagination about the central dilemma of American history.

About the Author

Christopher Tilghman is the author of two short-story collections, In a Father's Place and The Way People Run, and two novels, Mason's Retreat and Roads of the Heart. Currently the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia, he and his wife, the writer Caroline Preston, live in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Right-Hand Shore : “Constructed, Wuthering Heights style, . . . The Right-Hand Shore represents an outing of some of America’s most troubled ghosts . . . Tilghman unfolds his harsh lesson with precision, delicacy and startling humor . . . ‘The Right-Hand Shore’ is the dark, magisterial creation of a writer with an uncanny feel for the intersections of place and character in American history. His readers will want to hear more stories from the Eastern Shore estate. Let’s just hope he doesn’t keep us waiting for another 16 years.” —Fernanda Eberstadt, New York Times Book Review “Tilghman’s exquisite third novel returns to the eastern shore of Maryland to prefigure the events of his first, Mason’s Retreat . It’s 1920, and recently married Edward Mason has arrived at the Retreat—a former planation and peach orchard, and now a dairy—to meet his distant cousin, Mary Bayly, the current owner. Mary’s cancer has put the fate of the property in jeopardy—and Edward in line to receive the gift and burden of the land. After an unsettling interview with the formidable Mary, Edward sits with the longtime property manager, Oral French, and his wife, who recount the Retreat’s secrets, from miscegenation to slavery to murder. Listening to the pain caused by pride, selfishness, and the desire for love, Edward feels ‘mauled by the pull of the past, still so fresh for these p
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