Dorothy Love in her new book, "Carolina Gold" published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the life of Charlotte Fraser.
From the back cover: The war is over. But her battles are just beginning.
Following her father's death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family's rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold. But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father's former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply.
To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt. Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear.
Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman's struggle to restore her ruined world.
I enjoy history and I especially enjoy stories centered around The Civil War so this book drew me in on all accounts. Centered on the events after The Civil War or The Reconstruction Period this was a hard time for The South. Charlotte does not have it easy she is doing her best to get a crop in and make a payment to the bank so she can keep her property. The people who used to be slaves are not slaves anymore so she has to figure on how to pay them. Then she is taking a tutor job for Nicholas' children and the romance begins. "Carolina Gold" is a story about starting over and looking at things fresh. Both Charlotte and Nicholas have to put aside the way things were done before and learn new ways in order to succeed. What is even nicer is that the character of Charlotte is based on the true story of a Carolina rice plantation owner Elizabeth Allston Pringle. Ms. Love is an excellent writer and makes all her characters believable and you care deeply for them as she deftly unfolds the plot before us. This is a nice romance with great themes.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Returning to the plantation after the war and after waiting for her father's lawyer to read his will, Charlotte is now on her way back to her home in the Deep South to see what remains, if anything, of the home in which she once lived. While she knows there has been destruction of personal items or the items have been stolen, Charlotte has promised her father she will again try to raise the rice crop and live on the land.
The paragraph above states the setting of the fictional tale that is actually based on a real historical figure named Elizabeth Waties Allston Pringle. Can you imagine what this woman witnessed in her lifetime? How about thinking of what her life was like before and after the Civil War? Charlotte is based loosely on the real life experiences of Elizabeth, and the author, with some minor adaptations, places her novel near where the real plantation where Elizabeth lived. After you read the fictional tale, the author shares how she came to learn about this unique woman and her life.
There are characters that portray what southern people must have felt during Reconstruction along with what many veterans suffered during a horrific war. They had to learn to live in a new society that was still forming. With so few eligible men to marry, we see a jealous female antagonist see that she indeed ends up with the one man she sets her eyes on no matter who gets hurt in reaching her goal. Yellow fever is an epidemic that costs many lives in New Orleans in 1868. With the destruction so complete, few can prove they own the land on which they return to.
Dorothy Love writes a moving masterpiece that keeps the reader reading until they see how the unknown ending is revealed. I simply cannot express how much the real woman Elizabeth, along with others who lived in the south before, during and after the war, had to learn how to start all over. Readers see how a woman who has her faith shredded by heartbreak learns to trust God again in a time when each day brings new trials, triumphs or tragedy. What a tenacity people displayed to endure and then to thrive each day. Perhaps like our female lead character they did so by looking to God and putting one foot in front of the other time and time again. A historical novel rich with history, faith, perseverance and romance! Don't pass up reading this book!
I really liked the Southern Lowcountry style of this book. Although not all of Charlotte's circumstances were pleasant, the descriptive writing of the post-war South and plantation restoration was smooth and warm, bringing to my mind scenes from the movie Gone with the Wind.
Charlotte's solo trip to New Orleans, with such little evidence, seemed a little far-fetched for a genteel 19th-century woman, but my imagination liked that she cared so much about others to do what she thought was right. And Josie! My, what a spoiled Southern girl she seemed to be!
I especially love when authors are inspired by the life of a real person and I enjoyed this fictionalized story of Mrs. Pringle, a long ago rice farmer.
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, and all thoughts are 100% mine.*
I was fascinated to learn that the title of this novel refers to rice. And not just anywhere, but rice grown on plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Dorothy Love did such a impressive job of igniting my imagination that I want to travel down the Waccamaw and Pee Dee Rivers and see for myself the grandeur of the old rice plantations. The authors use of vivid imagery transported me. This story, told from the view point of a young Charlotte Fraser takes place just after the civil war and deals with the struggles the southern farmers had with finding reliable workers. The novel is concerned with many subtitles, reconstruction of the southern states, tutoring, women farmers, as well as the yellow-fever which plagued the port cities of Charleston, New Orleans, and others,. It is done with empathy, and great talent as I felt the devastation of not finding the workers to put in the crop, the lack of money and the need to find a way to survive. And then the storms came and took the crop. Many of these things still concern and stress farmers today, though much has been done to alleviate their anxiety.
I received this book free from Amy Lathrop at Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own.
The ruination of the South was rampant following the Civil War and the landed families suffered greatly. Prior to the war they were possessors of land that was their primary source of income through the venue of cotton and rice crops. They were mostly self-sustained in that they also produced their own food. Their ability to work the land was based on the use of slaves to labor in the fields. Slaves were fed, clothed, and housed on the property of the owner. Some were well cared for and others were mistreated gravely. The Civil War emancipated the slave. But the slaves' emancipation did not resolve all their problems, but it did thrust upon the freed slave and the former slave owners problems of equally as great a magnitude.
In Carolina Gold, a South Carolina plantation is now owned by the daughter, Charlotte, and she is determined to resume growing the plantation's crop of rice - called "Carolina Gold." She engages freed slaves to work for her and agrees to their payment terms. The hired laborers prove to be undependable and do not honor their agreement. Some of this problem is based on their attitude toward a former plantation owner being the one for whom they are working and one of the problems most likely stems from their not desiring to work for a woman. Charlotte is definitely moving in uncharted territory as she works to bring her plantation back to productive status.
Charlotte is resourceful and secures a bank loan to purchase seed and to pay salaries of former slaves engaged to now work the land as freedmen, and she also undertakes the tutoring of two young daughters of a neighbor. But as with many farming endeavors past and present, disaster in the form of weather strikes and most of the crop is lost. But Charlotte continues to persevere.
This story provides the reader with a historically accurate glimpse into post-Civil War South Carolina. The characters present some of the still-intact grace the Southern landed class had prior to the war and how they endured the hardships placed upon them as a result of war. It also gave a glimpse into the freed slave and how they began to establish themselves in the labor market as free men and women.
Having grown up in a Southern coastal city and knowing that area once had a rice producing plantation, the story Carolina Gold (the rice and the production of it) was not entirely foreign to me and it shed interesting history on the demise of rice as a crop in the South. I found the story an interesting read and enjoyable. I especially found the two girls Charlotte tutored to be delightful. The sweet romance that eventually blossomed between Charlotte and Nicholas was pleasant.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Carolina Gold in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.