Feb 21, 2012
Author: Jonathan Odell
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese (February 21, 2012)
I found this to be a truly interesting Civil War era slave story. A little different than most of the others I've previously read. The Master's family is completely dysfunctional and that leads to the slaves being in a constant state of fear and confusion. When the white owners can't keep themselves on track and managing life's issues, what chances do the poor slaves have?
The Master's wife has always been a bit of a loose cannon in the head, but her family has the money, therefore she's handled delicately and with absent devotion by her husband. But when her young daughter dies from a "slave disease" because her husband refuses to bring in a doctor that might tell others she contracted Cholera from the slaves, the Mistress loses the last of her mental stability.
Two things happen then. A very young slave has her newborn child taken away from her to be "used" in place of the dead daughter.... and the rest of the slaves are sent to live in the swamps so that no more slave diseases will taint the white folks.
Then we jump ahead 12 years. Granada, previously the infant baby, is now a house raised slave living in the kitchen. The Mistress never acknowledges her except when she presents her with an outfit from the dead daughter, has her dress and stand by her seat all evening as a showpiece. She is never spoken to by the Mistress. Granada doesn't understand this, but it's all she's ever known of her life. She has no idea how very tenuous her existence is in the house.. especially now that she's nearing the end of the dead daughter's clothing selection. When she outgrows them, what then?
Life completely changes sooner than expected when another slave disease runs through the "stock". The Master never buys outside slaves, he breeds his own. His wife likes to mention that most of the younger slaves look like him. When they start getting sick and dying again, he has a change of heart with his rules, goes to town and pays a huge sum of money for a slave doctor, Polly Shine.
Polly has "the gift" and immediately sees it in Granada, who she demands to have as an apprentice. You see, Polly is already elderly and the Master demands she train someone to pass the remedies on to... he wants his money's worth. Granada suddenly finds herself ripped from her comfortable, if odd, existence in the big house to becoming a doctor.
Needless to say she doesn't understand what's happening and does not go easily. By the time Granada has a good understanding of how her life is out of her control, it may be too late to correct the wrongs she brought about in her attempt to get back to where she feels her place is.
Good story, interestingly told and once again makes a reader absolutely cringe at how slavery in this country was thought of and accepted and how other human beings were treated.
Reviewed by Idgie. If you would like to have the Dew review a book, please contact me at email@example.com