Please excuse me while I finish ugly crying as I write this review.
Elizabeth Wainwright is born into privilege on a plantation in Virginia in the 1830’s. As is customary at the time, a slave wet nurse, Mattie, is brought in to tend to the infant. So begins the lifelong bond between plantation mistress and slave. The love between the two is strong but when Mattie feels that her family back in the fields is threatened, she has to make terrifying and life changing decisions. As Elizabeth grows up she questions the plantation life and her place within it. She too must decide how she will continue to live, and what more the world may hold for her.
This novel was absolutely phenomenal (be prepared to see it on my year end list of favorite books- I can already tell it will have made the cut!) Although a story of two very different women born into very different lives, they each faced a life forced upon them by fortune of circumstance.
The blossoming bond these two developed was beautifully written and honest; the love shared, pure. Elizabeth’s growth throughout the novel from innocent child who viewed her world through rose colored glasses to the eye opening experience that lead her to truly see her life on the plantation for what it was, was both earth shattering and relieving.
My heart broke for Mattie and the inner struggles she faced with wanting to keep her children safe and protected. As a mother myself I related to this on a visceral level as I’m sure any mother would. This novel provided such an honest look at such a dark park of our countries history that was neither gratuitous or overdone; it was raw and honest. It gave hope and light and left me eager for more of Mattie and Elizabeth’s story (which thankfully there IS a sequel!!)
Do yourself a favor and add this one to your reading list, I promise you will not regret it!