Joanna Catherine Scott

The story of Tom, a  slave from Chapel Hill, who ran to freedom through the chaos of the Civil War

Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction

finalist 2006

Book Sense/SIBA

Southern Literary Bestseller


Tom was a real person. I discovered him while reading Kemp P. Battle’s History of the University of North Carolina. What little is known of him––how he ran off to the woods and was flushed out, shot in the legs below the knees and sold––is told in a few brief sentences on page thirty-one. After that he disappears, as though he never had existed. Everybody needs a story, it is what makes us human, and it grieved me that Tom did not have one. So I set out to follow him and discover what his story might have been.

“Meticulously researched and intelligent, The Road from Chapel Hill and Child of the South are page turners in the tradition of Gone With the Wind.” —Alabama Public Radio


“A unique perspective of those in the South who did not support the Confederacy. All the details are historically accurate . . . Scott’s talent goes beyond her storytelling. Her compelling, creative retelling of our state’s history may spark a fire of learning that spreads with each reader. Durham Herald-Sun

“Deepens and enriches our understanding of the two great tragedies of American history—human slavery and the Civil War needed to end it. A book that will be read—then read again—with appreciation and admiration.

—Robert Anthony, Curator, North Carolina Collection, UNC- Chapel Hill

“Once I began this book, I could not put it down. I ate and slept, of course, but in between I read. The Road from Chapel Hill chronicles with marvelous historical accuracy the lives of displaced people in a culture obsessed with placeness—by race, by class, and by sex.” —Joel Williamson, Lineberger Emeritus Professor of the Humanities in Southern History, UNC-Chapel Hill, author of The Crucible of Race

“Joanna Catherine Scott was born in England and raised in Australia, and that makes this book all the more remarkable. It is a Civil War story, based entirely in North Carolina, and Scott writes in Black dialect and White Tar Heel dialect with ease and skill.”

Fayetteville Observer



"Scott’s writing is gripping and taut, her eye for historical detail sharp and her characters individual and memorable. Her  gorgeous descriptions of North Carolina’s landscape make this novel not just a fictional account of the Civil War, but a living, intricately detailed portrait of a vanished time and place. When Scott writes about the smell of the forest during a rainstorm, the slip of mud underfoot, or the call of an owl, one feels transported.

This is also true  when she describes less pleasant things, such as the stench of hospital rooms or the disease, degradation and human mess of a Confederate prison. These incredible details, along with Scott’s appreciation for history and her obvious love for the time period, make The Road from Chapel Hill truly soar.” —Pedestal Magazine

Joanna Catherine Scott demonstrates great ambition in her new novel The Road from Chapel Hill. Here she tackles the dual subjects any writer on the American South must eventually face: the region’s history of race relations and the legacy of the Civil War. Each is tangled with the other in a web of pain, misunderstanding, heartache, loss, and occasionally, redemptive love.

And so they are in Scott’s novel. She is to be commended for her adept skill with language (especially in her creation of mood), for her ability to enter fully into another historic era and into the minds of three dissimilar characters facing heart-rending circumstances.

To quote Joseph Conrad, Scott displays 'the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel ... before all, to make you see.'"

Raleigh News & Observer

Audible Press unabridged audio version

“In sparse clean prose, Scott  asks readers to think and question not only the world of her novel but our world as well.” —RT Book Reviews