Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Carolina Gold

Book Review

Dorothy Love has crafted her book Carolina Gold from a collection of articles published post-Civil War in the New York Sun by Elizabeth Allston Pringle. The historical articles were collected in a book called A Woman Rice Planter. The book gives a detailed description of the difficulties in the South after the war. After the death of her father, Love’s protagonist, Charlotte Fraser, is the sole owner of Fairhaven Plantation. With the freeing of the slaves she has no workers, a ruined house, and little money to plant a rice crop.

Charlotte and her neighbors enjoyed a privileged life before the war and were reduced to what felt like poverty post-war. I liked the fact that while the book is centered on the difficulties of plantation owners, the author gives the reader a look into the lives of other social classes as well. Love touches briefly on the new sense of independence that former slaves were just beginning to enjoy. Her profiles also include Daniel, a bright ambitious white boy born in poverty who craves an education. Also, Mr. Finch, the overseer who left his family and traveled out of state for work. Then there was the 14-year-old orphan left to fend for herself in New Orleans. It seemed a matter of perspective. Indeed, life had changed for the planter class and there were difficulties. However, the planter class still had advantages such a social capital. Charlotte was able to call on old friends of her father or people who had known her father, several times when she needed assistance. The lower classes did not have this advantage. I thought the contrast between the plantation owners and the people who truly lived in poverty was striking.

I loved the detailed look at the summer cottage and the beach culture on Pawley Island. This is where the upper classes spent the summer, escaping the heat, humidity and threat of yellow fever. The lifestyle was enviable. There is also a love interest between Charlotte and a new French man who inherited a nearby plantation.

The book is a historical look at a period of great change in our country. I did enjoy the book, especially the description of summer at the beach. I had a minor complaint. My eyes are not perfect and I struggled to read the passages that were correspondence, written in cursive. Realistic perhaps, but difficult for me to read. I do recommend this book. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book

The war is over, but her struggle is just beginning.

Charlotte Fraser returns to her late father's once-flourishing rice plantation on the Waccamaw River, determined to continue growing the special kind of rice known as Carolina Gold. But Fairhaven Plantation is in ruins, the bondsmen are free, and money is scarce.

To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly accepts a position as tutor to the young daughters of Nicholas Betancourt, heir to the neighboring Willowood Plantation. Then Nick's quest to prove his ownership of Willowood sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that reveals an old family mystery---and threatens all that she holds dear.

Inspired by the life of a 19th century woman rice planter, Carolina Gold continues Dorothy Love's winning tradition of weaving together mystery, romance, and rich historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman's struggle to restore her ruined world.

About the author

A former journalist, free-lance writer and college professor, Dorothy Love explores the intersection of history and human relationships to create novels that speak to the hearts of women everywhere. She is the author of the acclaimed Hickory Ridge novels set in her native state of Tennessee.

After earning a masters degree and Ph.D, she authored dozens of magazine articles before breaking into book publishing with a number of award-winning novels for preteens and young adults. The Hickory Ridge series marked her adult fiction debut. Currently she is working on several stand-alone historical novels set in the South.

When she isn't busy writing or researching her next book, Love enjoys hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband Ron and their rambunctious golden retriever. The Loves make their home in the Texas hill country.

To keep up with Dorothy Love, visit www.dorothylovebooks.com, become a fan on Facebook (Dorothy Love Books) or follow her on Twitter (@writerDorothy). 

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