Two Wings to Hide My Face

Now Available from Bywater Books

Award-winning author and journalist Penny Mickelbury returns to pre-Civil War Philadelphia to continue the powerful saga of Genie Oliver and Abigail Read.

About Penny

Penny has been writing professionally for most of her adult life, first as a newspaper, radio, and television reporter, and for the past 30+ as a playwright and novelist.

For almost a dozen years Penny was writing three separate mystery series at the same time: The Carol Ann Gibson legal series; the Gianna Maglione/Mimi Patterson police and journalist series; and the Phil Rodriquez PI series.  She has seen 14 novels and a collection of short stories published, and she has contributed stories to several collections. Her newest and 16th novel, TWO WINGS TO HIDE MY FACE is the sequel to 2019’s well-received TWO WINGS TO FLY AWAY.

• Penny is the 2020 recipient of the ALICE B MEDAL in recognition and appreciation of her contribution to the body of lesbian literature.

• Her 2018 novel, DEATH’S ECHOES, A Gianna Maglione/Mimi Patterson Mystery, received the Independent Publishers Association Bronze Medal.

• In 2019, Penny and her Washington Post Metro Seven colleagues were inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.

Penny’s newest novel, TWO WINGS TO HIDE MY FACE, reflects her interest in writing more historical fiction, though her commitment to the combination of history and mystery has not weakened or wavered.

Penny is an Atlanta native currently living in Los Angeles.

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Two Wings to Hide My Face

Now available from Bywater Books

​​Award-winning author and journalist Penny Mickelbury returns to pre-Civil War Philadelphia to continue the powerful saga of Genie Oliver and Abigail Read.

The streets of Philadelphia in early 1861 are ever more perilous for the Black residents and their close friends, because being White will not protect or save them from the rising tide of anti-Black hatred sweeping the city. Perhaps even more dangerous is the talk of war sweeping the nation—a war between the South and the North…between the states where slavery is practiced legally and those where it is not. And even though slavery is illegal in Philadelphia, no legal action is taken against the roving gangs of so-called slave catchers who openly kidnap free Blacks and sell them South, into slavery.

And if there is a war, and if the South should win—it is too horrific a possibility to contemplate. A run to a place of freedom is the only real alternative, and Canada is the only place where real freedom is a possibility for the Blacks. And not only aiding their escape but joining them is the only real alternative for the Whites who love them like family.

So as the newly formed entity called the Confederate States of America launches the attack on Fort Sumpter to start the Civil War, Genie Oliver, Maggie and Jack Juniper and their children, Ezra MacKaye, and Ada Lawrence embark on a journey to Toronto via land and water, a journey as fraught with danger as remaining in Philadelphia.

Two Wings to Fly Away

The Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the US Congress in 1850. Abolitionists nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law.”

In 1856 Philadelphia, a cross-dressing slave named Genie Oliver uses her dress shop as a front for her work with the Underground Railroad. Reluctant white heiress Abby Read runs a rooming house, not only because she rejects the life of an idle society woman, but because she has no intention ever to marry a man. When the young daughter of Abby’s free Black servant, Maggie, is recovered after being grabbed by rogue slave catchers, Abby connects with Genie, a white Pinkerton’s agent, and an unlikely cast of characters from all walks of life. The diverse group risks everything when they join forces to protect the great abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s effort to guide escaped slaves to freedom.

While racial and economic tensions begin to boil over across the country, Abby and Genie discover a profound friendship, a shared purpose—and the promise of something more. Two Wings to Fly Away paints a stunning portrait of a divided nation hurtling toward Civil War, set against a backdrop of courage, community, and the healing power of love.

Historical fiction like this doesn’t come around often and it shouldn’t be missed.
Lambda Literary Review
Penny writes with such elegant prose that she stands as one of America’s more important literary artists of the day. She is a powerful presence.
San Francisco Review of Books
… an extraordinary and consistently entertaining read that is unreservedly recommended. Showcasing author Penny Mickelbury’s genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling.
Midwest Book Review
Mickelbury’s characters speak in distinct voices, rife with the cadence of place… Everyone has a fully realized place at this table.
Foreword Reviews


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Author Penny Mickelbury
Author Penny Mickelbury