A Novel Idea: Robert Hicks – The Orphan Mother

About the Author:

Robert is the New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country. Robert moved to Tennessee in 1974 and was the first Tennessean to be listed among Arts & Antiques’ Top 100 Collectors in America. His collection focuses on Outsider Art and Southern Material Culture. He served as curator of the exhibition, Art of Tennessee, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. He is the founding chairman emeritus of Franklin’s Charge: A Vision and Campaign for the Preservation of Historic Open Space, a Tennessee non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving America’s threatened Civil War battlefields in Williamson County, Tennessee. He has been described as Nashville’s “Master of Ceremonies.” He recently completed a 29-city tour with his third novel, The Orphan Mother.


Robert was inspired to write Mariah’s story from his research on Widow of the South, which was based on true events. At its heart, The Orphan Mother is a story of survival and triumph for people struggling to transition from their lives before the Civil War to freedom afterward. Finding one’s individual place in a new social and economic structure was not an easy transition for anyone. Some seemed trapped in the past, while others embraced change and opportunity, no matter the risk.

About The Orphan Mother:

The Orphan Mother takes its readers to the South just after the Civil War – a period of uneasy adjustment from master and slave to freedom and new relationships with those who once had ultimate control over others’ lives. Freedom is precious, but discontent remains a strong undercurrent. Not everyone is ready for change.

Mariah Reddick takes her role as midwife seriously and has attended to many births, saving a number of babies and mothers from death during childbirth. She is a bridge between the past and present. Carrie, the widow of the South, remains a part of Mariah’s present and is a constant pull back to the past. On the other hand, Theopolis, Mariah’s son and a skilled shoemaker, has political aspirations and is eager to take on a leadership role with little thought of the consequences. Mariah’s quest for justice for her son is paramount and consuming. George Tole, brought to Franklin for a specific purpose by Eliph Dixon, fights his own demons. Born as a free man, his skill during the war as a sniper follows him throughout his life. His artistic bent in creating miniature towns is in conflict with his skill as a hired gun. Washing it all down with liquor isn’t making the past losses of his life any more bearable.

The interactions of these characters and the way they each react create a unique view into post-Civil War life. Will Mariah find justice? Will George leave his past behind for a fresh start? Will Carrie remain in limbo?

Where to find books by Robert Hicks:

Robert is a familiar face at the annual Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors. He will be speaking at Salemtowne Retirement Community (190 Moravian Way Drive) on Friday, September 8 (a free event). On Saturday, September 9, he will be part of a panel discussion on Civil War fiction from 3:15 to 4:15 pm inside the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts (251 N. Spruce Street).

The Orphan Mother was released as a hardback book on September 13, 2016, and will be offered in paperback beginning September 5, 2017. His books are also available in e-versions and on audio.

Purchase Robert’s books while attending the Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, the Bookmarks website (bookmarksnc.org), or at their nonprofit, independent bookstore located at 634 W. Fourth Street (#110). Their hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Sunday from noon to 6:00 pm. Convenient, free parking is available behind the bookstore, off Holly Street.

Follow Robert on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) and visit his website (Robert-Hicks.com).