[...] in fictional Manchester County, Virginia, we are told by the (sometimes intrusive) omniscient narrator "there were thirty-four free black families . . . and eight of those free families owned slaves" (7). [...] early in the novel we are reminded to view these characters within a wider context of black slaveowning that reconfigures the coordinates of race, gender, and power as multiple and sometimes contradictory sites for the (dis)location of black subjectivity.