Today’s blog will review a book about Port Tobacco I read last week:
Tobacco Styx Bridge by Enis St.John is a tragic murder mystery set in post-Civil War Chandlers’ Town. The point of view switches back and forth between Charles Abell, dean of the financially ailing Southern Maryland College in 1987, and his ancestors living at Elysium farm in the 1890’s.
The two parallel stories are based on actual events, but the author plainly states that this is fiction. Those who are part of the Port Tobacco community in one way or another will recognize names and places in the story. For those not familiar with the area the book gives a great a taste of what life was like in late 1800s southern Maryland. As an ignorant, city-dwelling northerner I enjoyed reading about the jousting Tournaments where local farmers and skilled ‘knights’ alike would compete to spear a series in shrinking rings on a sharpened staff. I’d never heard of such a thing in Maryland outside the Renaissance Fair, but Kelley assures me they still occur and is fact the state sport of Maryland.
More overarching themes include family legacy. Is the son responsible for the transgressions of the forefathers? What does one do with unsavory family history?
The historian in me wishes the division between facts and fiction was a bit clearer, but I will most likely just take what I’ve read to the library and look it up. Overall, Tobacco Styx Bridge was an entertaining book that lent some color to my minds-eye sketch of Port Tobacco.
Hope to see you all at Port Tobacco tomorrow!