by Erika Robuck
This dramatic story revolves around a plantation located on Nevis Island in the Caribbeans. Every other chapter tells the story of Meg who, with the untimely death of both her parents, inherits the plantation. The alternating chapters tell the story of the Dalls who own the plantation in the early 1830s.
After breaking off her engagement, Meg takes a leave of absence from her job and flies to Nevis where she gets her first look and at Eden, the large plantation house with its acres and acres of land. Nobody has lived on the plantation for over 150 years and the signs of neglect are everywhere. Meg decides to investigate the history of the plantation before selling it to a large hotel chain. She uncovers a diary, an original artwork that could be worth a lot of money and lots of family secrets.
The parallel story focuses on Catherine Dall the young mistress of Eden. Her mother died in giving birth to her and her father has turned into a drunk. She has a heart of gold and tries to make the slaves' lives as comfortable as possible. Her best friend is a young slave girl who is just 2 days younger than Catherine. Pressure builds as Catherine is forced to take over more and more of the running of the plantation because of her father's condition and yet, she lives in fear of the plantation overseer. The neighbor, also a wealthy plantation owner is becoming more persistent in his attention to Catherine - attention that Catherine does not welcome. Stir into this mix a couple of abolitionists who become friends with the Dalls.
The two stories unfold with new found mysteries side by side with each girl discovering long buried secrets. There are personal family truths that are revealed that devastate and cause both girls to struggle to regain equilibrium in their lives.
A few of the characters are fleshed out in this book, but the focus is more on the plot - what's happening, what are the outcomes and how do they affect the characters. Taking this approach the author allows the reader to step in and be/feel as if she was the character. It worked very well in this book
I'm always pleased when I learn new things in a book as well as being entertained and captivated for several hours. I looked up Nevis on Google Earth and saw that it is quite a small island and that it really exists.
I am always amazed at authors. The gift to put on paper a story that is engaging is beyond my comprehension. And when I read debut novels that are this good, I'm really amazed. I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Robuck.