Book of the Week | Angie's Diary
Edition #75 August 3 - 2014
Book Review

When the Drum Major Died

"When the Drum Major Died" by Anjuelle Floyd is a beautiful and moving story set towards the end of the 1960s in the Southern US.
Our heroine Florina is recovering from the grief over her late (and secret) husband, who died in Vietnam. She gives up her studies, remarries and moves to Poinsettia, North Carolina, where she will be confronted with the fact that you cannot run from your past or your feelings.
The book is a wonderful and touching character study and a poignant historical portrayal of those days.
It still fascinates me that Martin Luther King and his movement happened as late as that; in years still so close to our own times. Spread throughout the book are several small and bigger interesting facts and data about the times. Floyd has captured the spirit of the 1960s in the Southern US and shows them through greatly chosen characters. The family and marriage dynamics and the relations to the neighbours are further strong points in this great novel.
Highly recommended.
Christoph Fischer

Anjuelle Floyd's new novel, When the Drum Major Died, is a compelling story about the tumultuous time in the south during the 1960s. She portrays a newlywed couple and the secrets from the past that lay hidden. Florina has not told her new husband about a former husband who was killed in Vietnam and he has not told her about an affair with the woman who lives next door. With their new marriage falling apart, Florina tries to understand what is going on. She finds it hard to believe that Redmond loves her as he proclaims. Anjuelle unfolds the story in the midst of segregation and marches. The "Drum Major" of the book is Dr. Martin Luther King. All the different threads are drawn together and woven into a tapestry with snags and holes. She captures the essence of the story with a wide scope of emotions, some that threaten to destroy the characters in the turbulence that seeps into the small town where Florina's husband is a surgeon but he cannot admit patients to the local hospital because of the color of his skin. Anjuelle keeps the tension up right to the end. It is a great book.
Ruth Ann Hixson

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Anjuelle Floyd

Voices raised in disagreement flowed from the study and pulled Florina from her ruminations on the intricate weavings of the tablecloth.
“It’s time for me to make my own way,” said Redmond.
“You and Mother have done enough.”
“You’ve never had to go without," said Hammond, his father. “You speak as if what we’ve given you has caused us strain."
“All for which I’m grateful.”
“Then stay here in Poinsettia, and make a life for yourself. It’s a privilege and a gift to be able to do so.”
“Particularly, when so many don’t have that chance.”
“Please, God,” said Hammond. "Tell me you haven’t been thinking about that again.

Florina traced the stitching once more. It appeared to match the one in the ivory tablecloth she had received as a wedding gift. She struggled to comprehend the swift transition of her life from widow to bride. Even now the words from October, two months earlier, held an eerie echo.
“I’d like to marry you. Your father has given his permission,” Redmond had said. “As long as you agree."
Everything within her had stopped. I’m married. Florina had thought. But, no. She remembered. He’s dead. Ennis.

The argument continued in the study across the hall.
“Would it be so bad for me to work as an Army surgeon?” Redmond asked.
“I don’t want my son dying in a war that both you and I know is evil, senseless and impossible to win.”
“You sound like Dr. King.”
"On that the man is right," said Hammond.
The potential of losing another person she loved, to a war defying sensibilities, exhumed an old pain. Florina's first husband, Army Lt. Ennis McCreary had been killed in Vietnam during April 1966. She had never told her parents of Ennis, nor of her marriage to him. Neither had she told her new husband, Redmond.
The exchange from the study across the hall grew louder. “I’d be an Army surgeon," said Redmond establishing points.
“As if bullets will steer themselves in another direction because you hold a scalpel." Hammond refuted.
“I hate this war too," Redmond said. "But that doesn’t help any of our boys over in Vietnam. With me operating in a MASH unit, Negro soldiers will have at least one surgeon seeing to their--"
"Barely three days married and you’re seeking to make your bride a widow. Good god, son. Are you out of your mind?”
The ache of fear and possible loss resounded in his voice. “I won’t hear of it!”
Hammond Austin loved his only child. Florina had witnessed that when first meeting Redmond and his parents four months earlier in late July. She touched the tablecloth, again examined the intricacies of its weaving.

Florina lived and died once more, this time gaining and losing Redmond as she had Ennis.
Against the flow of the embittered conversation mounting in the study, she left the dining room and made her way to the closet by the front door. On gathering her coat, twenty-four year-old Florina Gavin Austin lifted her suitcase, and left.

Author Bio

Anjuelle Floyd is a wife of thirty years, mother of three, abstract painter and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work.

A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, she has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California.

Anjuelle received a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has also received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers' Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops.

Anjuelle Floyd

Anjuelle Floyd is also the author of "Keeper of Secrets...Translations of an Incident", June 15, 2007, a collection of interconnected short stories, and two novels, "The House", October 15, 2012, and "Seasons in Purdah," September 9, 2012.

A student of Process Painting from 1998-2006, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004--2011 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.

Find Anjuelle on:
Website - Facebook - Twitter


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