Thorndike Press


  • Diane McKinney-Whetstone
  • Offered By:
  • ISBN-10: 1410495388
  • ISBN-13: 9781410495389
  • DDC: Fic
  • Shipping Weight: 1.25 lbs ( .57 kgs)
  • 532 Pages | Hardcover
  • Published/Released January 2017



Award–winning Author

In this masterful work of historical fiction, Diane McKinney-Whetstone seamlessly transports us to Philadelphia in the aftermath of the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination, beautifully evoking powerful stories of love, friendship and humanity in the vibrant black community whose lives intersect at the legendary Lazaretto — the country’s first quarantine hospital.

The Lazaretto is a crucible of life and death; sick passengers and corpses are quarantined here, but this is also the place where immigrants take their first steps toward the American dream. The live-in staff are mostly black Philadelphians, and when two of them arrange to marry, the city’s black community prepares for a party on its grounds. But the celebration is plunged into chaos when gunshots ring out across the river.

As Sylvia races to save the victim, the fates of Meda’s beloved orphans also converge on the Lazaretto. Long ago, one “brother” committed an unthinkable act to protect the other, sparking a chain of events that now puts the Lazaretto on lockdown. Here conflicts escalate, lies collapse, and secrets begin to surface; like dead men rising, past sins cannot be contained.


Customer Reviews

Vibrant . . . Completely engaging . . . A unique blend of poetic language and graphic depictions of the injustices suffered by African Americans in the post–Civil War period.

— Booklist (starred)

McKinney-Whetstone weaves an intricate tapestry of love, pain and memory. . . . Philly is as much a character as the women. . . . Neena’s dire straits are nicely handled and provide a pretty sharp hook.

— Publishers Weekly (starred)

Language sings throughout the whole of McKinney-Whetstone’s writing—from the lilt of her characters’ colloquial speech to her poetic, visceral descriptions. . . . A sophisticated and compelling novel that comes alive through a rich cavalcade of vibrant characters and a suspenseful plot.

— Kirkus Reviews