The setting of this novel is mid 1800’s of the southern part of the United States. Slavery was the norm and Elizabeth Wainwright was born to the mistress of the house through a difficult forceps delivery by a well respected white doctor—the best that money could buy. She is then brought to her wet nurse, Mattie. Mattie has been honored by this transfer from the fields into the big white house to be the slave for Miss Elizabeth but she must leave her months old baby to be raised by another which creates heartache for her which she will never recover. It matters not though because Mattie is a slave with no power over her life or her death for that matter. Though she longs to be with her baby son she raises and learns to love this new baby who she nurses and loves as if her own while only allowed to see her son through the window of Miss Elizabeth’s bedroom and a few hours on Sunday. Elizabeth loves her Mattie more than her own mother. Mattie calls this new baby Lisbeth. Lisbeth grows into a high-born white lady but she is bothered by some of the norms of her surroundings—ownership of other humans, the beatings, the rapes of the slaves by the white masters—and all this time she remains close with her nurse but is growing away from the slave quarters and how she played with Mattie’s son, Samuel. She is being encouraged to be married to Edward Cunningham who is from one of the most upstanding families of society. It matters not to her family that she does not feel like she loves him. It doesn’t matter that she is drawn to Matthew who shares her interest in books and treats her well.
I loved this book. I would recommend reading it by all especially girls and women. It is written in simple language that would be understood by even those of middle school age. This novel is certainly not a history book but one that would encourage the study of this dark time in our own country’s history. That this novel was written by a first time author is especially encouraging, I hope she continues to write such good novels for our female readers.