A PLACE CALLED FREEDOM begins in the infernal coal mines of the Jamisson family, in the Scottish highlands, where twenty-one-year-old Mack McAsh spends most of his waking hours. Bound to his employer for life, Mack burns with an insatiable desire to escape.
He finds an unlikely ally in Lizzie Hallim, the beautiful, willful young aristocratic woman who yearns for independence in a male-dominated society.
Mack's hunger for freedom brings him into conflict again and again with the harsh rulers of eighteenth-century Britain. Accused of riot--a capital crime--Mack becomes one of the thousands of convicts who are shipped to the American colonies, to work as slaves for seven long years.
With its vivid, fascinating portrayal of the colorful streets of London and the endless landscapes of the New World, plus an unforgettable cast of heroes and villains, lovers, and rebels, hypocrites, hell-raisers, and whores, A PLACE CALLED FREEDOM is a magnificent epic of love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
With action that spans two countries on opposite sides of the Atlantic, making a credible audio version of this epic tale is no small feat. Victor Garber, the talented actor of stage and screen (Sleepless in Seattle
, I'll Fly Away
, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd
), does an admirable job. Garber presents the narrative passages in a clear, confident tone and uses his extensive acting experience to create believable voices for the many diverse characters. Follett has thrown in a confusing array of regional accents and disguised characters, but the range of Garber's voice helps keep things straight while heightening the considerable action and communicating the powerful emotions expressed by the very large cast that gives this drama its grand sweep.
This intriguing novel hinges on the courageous struggles of the hero, an indentured coal miner who declares, "I'll go anywhere that is not Scotland--anywhere a man can be free." Getting anywhere else is easier said than done, especially when he's caught up in an entanglement of familial responsibility, forbidden love, official deceit, trickery, and violence. Even though there are plenty of breathless moments when proper ladies are tempted by bare-chested hunks, this is much more than just another adventure-filled love story. It's also an intriguing journey into the social and political realities of the late 18th century, when the rising influence of the American colonies was first taking hold and the shining glory of the British Empire had begun its long, slow fade. (Running time: four hours, four cassettes) --George Laney