Oberlin, Ohio, 1868. Lisbeth Johnson was born into privilege in the antebellum South.
Jordan Freedman was born a slave to Mattie, Lisbeth’s beloved nurse. The women have an unlikely bond deeper than friendship. Three years after the Civil War, Lisbeth and Mattie are tending their homes and families while Jordan, an aspiring suffragette, teaches at an integrated school.
When Lisbeth discovers that her father is dying, she’s summoned back to the Virginia plantation where she grew up. There she must face the Confederate family she betrayed by marrying an abolitionist. Jordan and Mattie return to Fair Oaks, too, to save the family they left behind, who still toil in oppression. For Lisbeth, it’s a time for reconciliation. For Jordan and Mattie, it’s time for liberation.
As the Johnsons and Freedmans confront the injustice that binds them, as well as the bitterness and violence that seethes at its heart, the women must find the courage to free their families—and themselves—from the past.
The bestselling author of Yellow Crocus returns with a haunting and tender story of three women returning to the plantation they once called home.
Unforgettable. If this book doesn’t touch your soul, you should send out a search party.
Lisbeth was born into a family of plantation owners in the deep south; Mattie was a slave on their land, elevated to a position in ‘the big house’ as her nurse and the two formed a really close bond. Mattie’s daughter, Jordan, was born a slave but these days all of them live in Ohio and Mattie, Jordan and Mattie’s son Samuel are now free. With the impending death of her father, Lisbeth returns to Virginia with her children to tend to him in his last days completely unaware that Mattie and her family are also in the area for another reason. But life in Ohio is entirely different to that in Virginia where the anti-slavery laws aren’t given the same credence. Mattie and Lisbeth find themselves drawn back into everything they had long left behind . . .
Around five or six years ago I read a very special novel which has never left me; entitled Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim I thought it was a one off. When I discovered that there was a sequel – this novel – I kept it on my to-read list as something to look forward to and savour. With my annual break this summer, the time was right and oh, what an awesome book this is! Although it could be read as a stand-alone I really would recommend reading these in order (there is a third, Golden Poppies, which I have safely stashed in my kindle. With all the publicity recently of ‘Me Too’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ there is no better time to read this stunning novel, but first and foremost this is a terrifically produced saga about two women and there intertwining lives. If, like me, you thought you knew about the repugnant times of slavery in the southern states, you will no doubt learn something new from this – I know I did. Laila Ibrahim has really done her homework before putting pen to paper and she writes beautifully with a smoothly flowing narrative, always with something going on and a gripping story line plus a wonderful depth to her characters rarely seen.
If you enjoy books about strong women, they don’t come much better than this one. Not something I say often, or lightly, but this is quite magnificent and will play on my mind for some time to come. I’m not ashamed to say I have gasped and been moved to tears more than once with the injustice of it all. Utterly superb and well worth anticipating – I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to hold out before reading the third book! Easily earning all five sparkling stars and the highest recommendation I can give to lovers of great historical sagas. One of the most beautiful stories I have ever read – and that’s saying something!
I downloaded this as one of my Kindle First Reads choices, part of my Amazon Prime subscription; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.
Tags: African American historical fiction
- Format: ebook, paperback, audiobook, audio cd
- Size: 282 pages
- Publisher: Lake Union
- Publication Date: 07 November 2017
- Links: Goodreads
- Barnes & Noble
Laila Ibrahim spent much of her career as a preschool director, a birth doula, and a religious educator. That work, coupled with her education in developmental psychology and attachment theory, provided ample fodder for the stories in Mustard Seed and Yellow Crocus.
She’s a devout Unitarian Universalist, determined to do her part to add a little more love and justice to our beautiful and painful world. She lives with her wonderful wife, Rinda, in a small cohousing community in Berkeley, California with two other families. Her amazing young adult children, Kalin and Maya, are kind enough to text, FaceTime, and call her on a regular basis.
Laila is blessed to be working full-time as a novelist. When she isn’t writing, she likes to walk with friends, do jigsaw puzzles, play games, work in the garden, travel, cook, and eat all kinds of delicious food.