When Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa's hand in marriage, he presents her with a wedding gift: Sarah, the young slave with whom she was raised. Sarah also is Allen's daughter and Clarissa's sister, a product of his longtime relationship with his house slave, Emmeline. When Clarissa's husband suspects that their newborn son is illegitimate, Clarissa and Sarah are sent back to her parents, Cornelius and Theodora, in shame, setting in motion a series of events that will destroy this once powerful family.
"In this stunning debut, Marlen Suyapa Bodden effortlessly transports the reader to 1852
Alabama, where slavery and racism may rule the day, but everything isn't as black and white as
it may seem...Bodden weaves a page-turning tangled web of misogyny, greed, scandal and violence
in this powerful story about races colliding against the backdrop of America's darkest era." -Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
"If I were you, I wouldn't make any plans for the rest of the day. You have in your hands a story of the tangled motives and self-destructive passions when whites and blacks became this close during the time of slavery-all told at a pell mell pace." -Tom Wolfe
"Fascinating, intriguing-a great story!" -Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House
"This compelling and fierce historical novel is set in the big house of a wealthy plantation before the Civil War and is based on a court case from the 1840s in Talladega, Alabama."
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
"The strength of the novel is its slave narrative tone and its ability to demonstrate the pain of being owned by another human being. Many have heard of slavery; few know this story. It's too important to overlook."-Daniel Black, author of Twelve Gates to the City