“Walk in My Soul was more than I can find words to praise.”
‘Richard’ via email
“Walk In My Soul!! One of my favorite books of all time!!”
“Walk in My Soul is my favorite book of all time.”
“Thx for your great books. I have only read the ones in Dutch. I cry when I read TIANA, this book ain’t a book, it was real, it all happened before my eyes.”
Reader from Belgium via email
Normally, books too large to fit in a pocket or too heavy to lift with ease do not impress me favorably. Some of this feeling, of course, stems from pure laziness, both physical and intellectual, on my part. Some is probably sheer envy of anyone who can hold a story together for more than about 200 pages. At least a portion, though, has some merit. Reading a 700-page novel, requires the same time and commitment that could otherwise be devoted to two or three – or even four – other books. That one monster has to contain something way above average to justify sticking with it. As a poetry magazine once expressed it, “We have no length limitations, but anything longer than a hundred lines had better be immortal.”
With all that said, I would like to recommend, unreservedly and with great enthusiasm, Walk in My Soul by Lucia St. Clair Robson. Walk in My Soul is a brilliant historical novel of the Cherokee, beginning in their homeland on the Hiwassee River in Tennessee around 1809 and running through 1839, after their journey on the Trail of Tears. The book is built around the life of Tiana Rogers. Daughter of a Scots settler and a Cherokee woman, Tiana grows and develops through the good years and the bad. As a child, young woman, wife, mother, widow, friend and lover of the man known as Raven to the Cherokee and Sam Houston to the whites, and finally as Beloved Woman – a position of leadership and honor best understood by reading the book – Tiana mirrors the story of her people. By its nature, the story is ultimately tragic, but it is a tragedy enriched by the indomitable soul of Tiana Rogers.
I am not qualified to judge the historical or cultural accuracy of Walk in My Soul as it relates to the Cherokee civilization. Robert Conley’s territory. Certainly, though, no book could add much to Robson’s picture of the joy in life, the endurance, or unconquered spirit of a gentle and courageous people. On any level, Walk in My Soul is a tremendous novel.
Roundup Magazine Nov/Dec 1985
Tiana Rogers, the central character in “Walk in My Soul,” is half Aniyunwiya, a feisty 9-year-old when we first meet her in 1809. She lives with her large family near the Tennessee River in the Land of a Thousand Smokes, in what is now eastern Tennessee south of the Smoky Mountains. Many of her people are abandoning their traditions for the settlers’ customs, but the ancient lore runs deep in Tiana.
“‘Good morning, Hawk,’ Tiana said in a low voice. The hawk screamed its hoarse, piercing call, dipped its wings, and disappeared into the trees. Tiana felt goosebumps that weren’t caused by the cold. Her heart thumped faster. She was sure the hawk had called her name. It was possible. Her mother and grandmother said every living thing had a spirit. And sometimes those spirits spoke to human beings.”
No spirits speak to 16-year-old Sam Houston, who lives in nearby Maryville. He hears only the clamor of drunken brawls and the customers in the store where he’s a bored clerk. Sam runs off with Tiana’s older brothers and is adopted by the Cherokees and given the name Raven. He lives happily among Tiana’s people for three years until his restlessness pulls him back to the white world.
When he returns after fighting in the War of 1812 he discovers that Tiana has grown into a beautiful, remarkably talented woman. But not even their love for each other can defuse Houston’s ambitions. He leaps into the politics of Tennessee, Washington and finally Texas, while Tiana struggles to keep her people from being overwhelmed by the settler’s greed for land and the governments’ duplicity.
“Walk in My Soul” depicts the anguish of the Aniyunwiya as they’re betrayed by Andrew Jackson and Congress, expelled from their homeland , and marched to death on Nunna-da-ult-sun-yi, the Trail Where They Cried.
But author Robson hasn’t merely tacked a plot onto snippets of history. Her sprawling story grows naturally out of photographic descriptions of the manners, morals, humor, food and language of both whites an Cherokees during the years 1809 – 1838.
Sam Houston, like the dozen other fictional and historical characters who burst to life in this novel (Davy Crockett, Washington Irving and Alexis de Tocqueville make appearances), is entirely believable. But the tale really centers around Tiana, whom her people eventually call a Ghigau, a Beloved Woman. Warrior, priestess, female – she’s an unforgettable character in a richly detailed, rousingly good story that portrays Native Americans with dignity.
Washington Post July 15, 1985