A Place Called Freedom is Ken Follett’s one of the most absorbing historical novel set around 1770 A.D. Protagonist Malachi (Mack) McAsh right at an early age stands against the tyrannical practice of employing children as miners in Scotland. His desire for freedom above everything else in life sets the underneath motif in the novel. It is the same willingness to be free that makes him a fugitive in the eyes of his master, Sir George Jamisson.
After escaping from High Glen, Jamisson’s property, he moves to London. There again he faces injustice by standing against the domination of ‘undertakers’, head of a group who helps in unloading coal from ships. As a punishment, he is transported to Virginia as an indentured slave. As fate calls it, Mack again becomes Jay, the younger Jamisson son’s servant.
As the plot is moving Follett also introduces us to Lizzie Hallim, the neighbor of Jamisson’s in High Glen but unlike them, she is independent-minded, caring, believes in giving fair justice and is as daring as Mack. Her chemistry with Mack is another intriguing element that glues readers to the novel. However, Lizzie gets married to Jay yet there has been some encounters between the two (Lizzie and Mack) which makes the readers apprehensive about the growing love between the two, which culminates near the end of the book. Both separated by politics and positions, yet destined towards common struggle and perilous climax finds love and a place called freedom.
The book is no doubts, an absorbing historical fiction, the author has given convincing background details with respect to the pathetic working conditions of mine-workers and coal heavers both included men, women and children. Brutal conditions of transporting shackled slaves below deck of ships, routine of an American tobacco plantation, rich people dealing with slaves and their unkempt living conditions all these have been depicted with sheer realism.
Follett has further tinged the contemporary social milieu with authenticity by mentioning John Wilkes, the real-life English liberal and George Washington, the first president of the United States.
All in all, an interesting tale set amidst riot and revolution of strong willed men and women.