"If you can write, that's great. If you can tell a story, that's even greater. But if you can work a resilient premise into both, you're worth digging to find."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Mysterious Life & Calling by Reverend Mrs. Charlotte S. Riley

Synopsis: The story of a woman who writes her story about rising from slavery to a licensed minister.

Writing Style: Humorously genuine, Eloquent, Engaging

Pacing: Fast

Premise: A critical analysis…and personal reflection of ministry teaching during the civil war and post civil war era.

Personal Highlights: Reverend Riley’s voice (and personality) in her autobiography reminded me so much of great-grandmother. Admittedly however, I had to get my own bearings together after reading the opening, expressing Reverend Riley's semi privileged upbringing, and how she had “nothing to shout for” when first introduced to church. Quickly I figured out what that was all about and from there was ready to read.

Favorite aspects of this tremendously engaging story was the writing style; long sentences, crossing my eyes like sheet music. Of course I realize the writing was ubiquitous of the speak in that time, but none-the-less delightful to read. Having actually heard it spoken before allowed me to appreciate the humor in Reverend Riley’s mannerisms, covering a lot of territory...serious, resolute, a true believer and savior and educator of many souls...and not always feeling her best, aside from having to deal with folk...on some occasions... such as handling the ‘bushwhacker’.

The mention of Abbeville got my attention too. This was where my great-grandmother was born… four years after Reverend Riley was appointed the Post Master of Lincolnville. And mention of the Red Shirts as well got my attention. My great-grandmother’s father shared a number of stories with my father about the Red Shirts and Democrats in South Carolina. This was just an all around really engaging story; well researched and cited by editor Crystal Lucky who found Reverend Riley’s autobiography. Highly recommended.


  1. This sounds very interesting! I've never heard of this book, but the topic is fascinating because this woman had two obstacles to contend with - racism and sexism. From your excellent review, it sure sounds like she was a great inspiration in her time, and can be for out times, as well! I'm adding this book to my Goodreads shelves! Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks as well for visiting my blog and commenting on my Book Blogger Hop post! Have a GREAT weekend!! :)

    1. Hi Maria! Glad this review inspired you; the story itself is a really short read but definitely has a lot of personality to the telling of the story...something like the feel I got from visiting your blog. I'm definitely going to try to make your next hop. ;-)