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.~Goodreads Blurb
All too often it is the Civil War that defines the South and its slaves. Set just before the revolutionary war, The Indigo Girl shows the life of the south before the war. You have all the usual antebellum tropes but there is an additional historical anchor in the rebellions and the Spanish freedom and subsequent re-enslavement of slaves in their colonies. On the surface, this is a fun strong girl taking over her father’s plantation to gain her own freedom.
It was the relationships between the slaves and the plantation owners that I found interesting. While the sheer idea of a “good” master makes me cringe, I couldn’t help but wish that the author's depiction of the masters was true. It definitely played on white guilt a bit. It was okay for them to be slaves because they were happy slaves and that sort of idea. It was hard to take seriously the abolitionist speak of equality and rights when all the while she owns slaves and makes her living off of their backs. The story was definitely painted in a good light and to dive to deeply into this story would do it no real good. As a light story about the transplant of indigo to South Carolina, it is a good story. As a story about master and slave relations, it falls short.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing in exchange for honest feedback*