Worlds intersect in this historical fiction

by professional writer, Lee Leffler

In this historical novel, I discovered that the worlds of the wealthy plantation families and their impoverished slaves could collide and intersect to weave a complex and interdependent tapestry. Having been schooled in another country with just one year of American History studies, I had thought that interaction between plantation owners and their slaves was limited. This novel, based on a real court case, opened my eyes.

The story is told by two females at a time when abolitionist sentiment is growing and the Civil War is brewing. Sarah, a young slave who blossoms into womanhood, is raised by her mother. We learn that her father is also her master, the plantation owner, a result of her mother's requirement to follow her master's orders without question.

The other story teller is Theodora, the wife of the plantation owner. On the surface, she seems to have it all: education, literacy, vast wealth, travel, and the first-class services of her home's "servants" (slaves). As the story unfolds, we discover that she has no more freedom than the servants who prepare her meals and light her lamps. The brutal behavior of the plantation owners lurks beneath this apparent "paradise" and quickly comes to the surface.

Sarah's life is very different from Clarissa's, the daughter of the plantation owner and his wife. Sarah is trained to be Clarissa's maid, serving her every small creature comfort. As these girls grow into women, they marry (one is voluntary, one is forced) and Sarah is given to Clarissa as a wedding gift. When they move into the new husband's home, the story twists into a whirlwind of brutality, hope, love, betrayal, survival and the quest for true freedom.