Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Pub. Date: October 3rd, 2017
Pages: 352

Genres: Historical Fiction / Fiction / Biographical


An incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family's three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.

Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it's the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it's impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return -- against the laws of the day -- she will teach the slaves to read.

So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Based on historical documents, including Eliza's letters, this is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.

What Did I Think About the Story?

One of my favorite aspects of book blogging is coming into contact with other delightful bloggers and readers, as well as the wonderful people who work within the publishing world at large. When I saw the cover of The Indigo Girl I knew I had to showcase it for one of my Thursday Cover Crush posts. After that, one of my favorite bloggers - Amy at Passages to the Past and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - hooked me up with Lauren Maturo - a Senior Publicist at Blackstone Publishing - who offered to send me a copy of the book to review! I was so excited to read this story about a true woman from history that I knew nothing about, and I'm so glad I did because she was truly a young woman before her time.

As you can read from the synopsis, Eliza Lucas was put in a tremendously difficult situation and one that no one seemed to think she could really handle without assistance from others. In Natasha Boyd's hands, however, we get to meet a young woman with an unbelievable amount of determination and bravery, one that refused to let anyone tell her what she could/couldn't or should/shouldn't do. I can't imagine having the fortitude to tackle such a monumental task by myself ever, let alone at her age and in the time period in which she lived, but she did it and she did it without compromising who she was, which was a woman who was incredibly intelligent and resourceful and quite able to handle herself while also keeping her kindness and fairness with everyone she dealt with. She refused to just be married off to the highest bidder and fought tirelessly to make her family's plantations not only sustainable but thriving. If the true Eliza was even half as admirable as this one then her story really needs to be told more often.

I will admit that the overall story did lag somewhat for me in the middle. The attention given to the actual growing of the plants and what it took to create the indigo dye - which was a very complicated process and one that not many people knew about - just wasn't as interesting to me as I would have hoped. This aspect has nothing to do with the writing style and is more about the fact that planting and harvesting just aren't that fascinating to me, but it did affect my enjoyment of these sections of the story nonetheless. There was also a lot of repetitiveness when it came to Eliza's complicated feelings towards both a childhood friend and a new friend and there were times where it felt like those storylines could have been sped up somewhat or at least not discussed as much when there wasn't any new advancements in the situations to move the storylines along.

With the above being said, what this young woman accomplished was remarkable and I'm very glad I learned her story. I really appreciate that the author's writing felt very authentic given the time period and that she didn't overdramatize the romantic storyline that develops slowly and sweetly. The author also included a nice author's note at the end of the book - which I always love and appreciate -  giving the reader a little more information about the true Eliza and her more famous sons. I absolutely loved the excerpts of Eliza's letters that were also interspersed throughout the narrative. I'm still amazed that Eliza's story hasn't been told more in our American history and I really hope this changes. I'm also excited to see what Natasha Boyd might write next as I enjoyed how she brought Eliza's story to life.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It's GORGEOUS!! As I said above, I actually picked this for a cover crush post earlier this year which led to the publicist reaching out and offering me a copy! The colors are just so beautiful and I love the sort of inky way the colors swirl around, leaving Eliza's face purposefully blank. Is this so we can discover her within the pages? Maybe, maybe not, but regardless I love it!

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Thank you to Lauren Maturo of Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a free copy of The Indigo Girl in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are mine alone. For more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment