What a reader in the U.K. has to say about The Day I Saw The hummingbird

on 26 October 2017
Christmas has come early this year with the publication of Paulette Mahurin’s latest novel, ‘The Day I Saw the Hummingbird’.
As with her previous novels, this one takes us on a journey into the past, a masterful blend of fact and fiction, set in the American south during the Civil War. It tells the story of one of the ‘passengers’ on the Underground Railroad: Oscar, a runaway slave. Unlike the previous novels, however, the main character, its quiet ‘hero’, is a child. We hear his distinctive voice as the book opens, in 1914, with Oscar on his way to an event celebrating Harriet Tubman, one of the Railroad’s most famous conductors. It’s an event which prompts Oscar to look back over more than 60 years to his early life, and the fateful journey during which he left his childhood behind, learned to become a man, and found freedom.
The account of the physical hardships and terrors Oscar is forced to endure is gripping in itself. But what will make this story speak to readers are the struggles and challenges he must face on his spiritual journey, trying to make sense of the world into which he has been born, where some humans are considered less worthy than others, and, through motives that surpass comprehension, become the focus of a murderous hatred:
‘No whipping was too great, no abuse out-of-bounds. Name-calling, dirt-throwing, inciting Buddy to pee on him…’
And then there are the brandings, the rapes, the lynchings.
In ‘The Seven Year Dress’, Mahurin addressed the subject of dehumanisation as her protagonist, Helen, a prisoner in Auschwitz, was ‘dismantled’ as a person. Here, once again, she gets to grips with big issues, questions which led Michel de Montaigne to conclude that there was some ‘instinct to inhumanity’ in us; which had Primo Levi asking ‘if this is a man’, and Martin Luther King condemning ‘those who possess power without compassion, might without morality.’ Rivers of ink have resulted from the same questions, but two things make this author’s books stand out.
One is her style, deceptively simple, unadorned, lacking in hyperbole. It is this restraint which makes her description of horrific events so compelling. This really happened. And it could happen again. The other is her ability to capture the spirit of hope than enables her characters to continue to fight, and not to give in:
‘…a whispering moved among the good people; it was filled with a hushed excitement. I like to call it the sound of hope. It was surely the promise of freedom.’
And what is freedom? Into the mud and dirt of the sugar cane fields where Oscar toils, the humming bird alights, with a flash of colour and beauty. The existence he ekes out with his mother, the murder of his father, the terrible conditions of a life of slavery under an indifferent owner and a brutal overseer, are bad enough. But on this particular day, the nine-year-old child will plumb the depths, precipitating events that will rip open ‘a hole in his heart.’ This will be the day that almost breaks him, but will also make him.
When Oscar finally embarks on his journey he has already, through the bond with his mother, learnt the meaning of love, and empathy:
‘One of the most important things she told me was that we are known by how we make someone else feel. We may not remember the words that were said to us or the objects that were given to us, but we sure remember how they made us feel.’
On the underground railroad leading to freedom, he will learn about friendship and trust, about the kindness of strangers, about compassion and sacrifice.
Most important in his quest for the meaning of freedom, he will come to see that ‘learning is a door’ to ‘a whole new world… where a mind is free to explore just about everything. I never knew such a world existed. And I sure didn’t know that kind of freedom was possible.’
A giant step for the child who, at the beginning of his story, inhabited a world where he was forced to walk with bowed head and slouched body, and where the concept of freedom was reduced to the smallest of things:
‘Maybe because it felt too foreign to consider freedom, I prayed for what I might be able to have: an article of clothing, enough food in my belly, proper sleep to sustain me another day, and even a song to sing to lift my spirits without fear of a lashing.’
‘The Day I Saw the Humming Bird’ is another triumph for this wonderful, compassionate author, who reminds us yet again of the necessity for remembering.

About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
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35 Responses to What a reader in the U.K. has to say about The Day I Saw The hummingbird

  1. tazzielove says:

    That’s a great review.

  2. ivors20 says:

    Well done Paulette, a fantastic review, I can’t wait to get my books !!

  3. Jean-Jacques says:

    WOW… Paulette, that sure is some accolade, nearly a book by itself. Fantastic! has me looking forward to receiving my copy of this obviously wonderful new book of yours.

  4. This sounds like a wonderful book, even the name is evocative. Thank you for the fabulous review, I hope to read this.

  5. Littlesundog says:

    What a great review! Makes you “feel the love” doesn’t it?

  6. That was a superb review…and, having just managed to download the book on Kindle, well deserved.
    Congratulations…you brought Oscar and his life before my eyes…

    • Oh I hope you liked Oscar’s story. He had a lot to say and tell the world, about how he and his kind were treated way back when. And sadly the treatment continues in too many places today. And thank you, I was very happy with this review. Wishing you, Leo and your fur babies a peaceful, happy weekend. ❤

      • While you think you know the history, having the man look back on his childhood experiences, tellingi from the heart,

      • Sorry, fat finger! Having the maturity of the man narrating the experiences and feelings of the child made the history come to life…both the good and the terrible.
        You are right, we are not so far from this scenario in the world we think of as civilised…dehumanise, demonise and you can do what you ike to another human being, with the approval of society.

      • I have my own set of fat fingers. In fact I had someone point out a couple of typos that I had to have my editor correct and download the book again. Our fingers have a mind of their own. The commentary on how “we” humans treat others is pathetic for far too many. It’s the beautiful exceptions with kindhearted people like those then that helped Oscar and those that live today doing their silent deeds of kindness to help others is what is keeping us all afloat. And I might add that you, my friend, do your fair share to help keep the balance of decency alive. Glad to know you. 🙂

  7. WOW! What a great, long review. That could be almost another book 😉 Pawkisses for a Happy Sunday 🙂 ❤

  8. Great review – I’m enjoying it, so hopefully, mine will join it soon!

  9. dgkaye says:

    What a wonderful review Paulette. Congrats on your new release and wishing you many more great reviews. ❤

  10. natuurfreak says:

    Wat een prachtig verslag

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