I picked this book up, was hooked, and read it in one day. A 5 star read for me!!
The grand old plantation, Belle Vie, was brought to life with the author's words. I could see the river, the cottages and old schoolhouse, the old oaks and weeping willows, the hydrangeas, the haunting presence of the slave quarters, the cane fields.
Answers to some questions were hinted at, but slow in coming which kept me engrossed in the story....wanting all the answers! Especially given the beginning and the discovery of a female migrant workers body on plantation grounds.
Excerpt: "A reminder, really, that Belle Vie, its beauty, was not to be trusted. ......She should have known that one day it would spit out what it no longer had use for, the secrets it would no longer keep."
Caren Gray was an easy character for me to like. Perhaps it was the hardships she endured or because she was a single mother trying her best to raise her nine year old daughter. She was the great, great, great..... granddaughter of slaves who had worked Belle Vie's cane fields and endured through the greatest shame of the south; slavery. Slaves whose history came back to life through re-enactments that were held on the plantation along with tours and the hosting of events. She had been raised on Belle Vie, the daughter of the plantation cook, the playmate of the Clancy's sons Raymond and Bobby, especially Bobby, until the difference in their circumstances became too much to maintain the childhood friendships.
Her nine year old daughter Morgan was a handful who harbored a resentment because of the absence of her father. It seemed from the beginning that Morgan knew a lot more about the inner workings of the employees than her mother gave her credit for. Once again, Caren's return to the plantation and employment was a mystery particularly given the hints that she had been impatient to leave and never return.
As the story progressed, the tensions mounted until the answers were revealed. Some were jaw dropping for me and I debated giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 only because I disagreed with Caren's final decision.
All in all, this story kept me entranced until the final page. I haven't gotten so wrapped up in a book for quite a while and am anxious to read more by this author!