Charlotte Fraser has gumption. A willingness to dig deep even though the men around her believe that she will ultimately fail. With the death of her father behind her, she heads back to her family home in Fairhaven now that the Civil War has ended. She has been told not to expect anything to be left since the freed slaves and Yankees have left nothing of value behind. She knows she will need to do whatever she can to ensure that the rice crop is planted to provide a living for her and to pay back the bank loan she has acquired. The only thing that remains in her name is the property at Fairhaven as well as the summer home at Pelican Cottage. The only question is the validity of her families claims on the property at Fairhaven since a land deed in her father's name can't be found.
Charlotte hopes that the remaining clue her father whispered to her about remembering the fire will lead her to discover some hope that she will not have to leave the only home she has ever known. She is more than pleased to find that some of the families she has grown up with have also moved back to South Carolina but now that all the slaves are free, Charlotte isn't quite sure how she will manage planting rice crops with no labor available. The only few men remaining now realize that they can charge Charlotte whatever the going rate is to restore some of her crops. When she arrives home, she finds the family home literally gutted. Not even the bathtub remains. The barn is in shambles, no live stock remains, and the fields where her family grew lots of rice and vegetables is in a state of disrepair. She soon bands together with the local family to hire a group of men to help plant their rice crops along with selling her stories to the Enterprise newspaper about the Southern Reconstruction efforts.
When Nicholas Betancourt moves back to Willowood, he hopes he can pursued her to tutor his two young girls while he himself attempts to start over, but Charlotte is far from qualified to teach anyone. Her methods don't follow the tradition formal training a teacher would use but she could definitely use the money to help make ends meet. Nicholas is hoping that having a woman's presence back in his daughters lives will help them readjust to a life after the death of their mother. Soon Charlotte finds a friendship with Nicholas she wasn't expecting and wonders if love can possibly arrive from the ashes of war. Being a woman living alone presents some problems for her but nothing she can't manage with raw determination and grit. Now if she can only put her mind at ease and locate the papers her father must have had to show ownership of the property otherwise all the money she is investing will be in vain.
I received Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are strictly my own. This novel was based on the true story of a Carolina rice plantation owner Elizabeth Allston Pringle. The author Dorothy Love shares just how she came to develop the storyline which gives readers an inside look at how this woman struggles in the midst of coming home after the Civil War and trying to make a start of things when life was extremely difficult with the many changes the war left. I have read every single book that Dorothy Love has written and once again, I give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. I love historical fiction and learning a little bit about history that I had never known before.
Charleston, South Carolina, March 1868. ~Charlotte Fraser, daughter of the late Francis Fraser.
I am on my way home! Home. I do not know what I will find when I arrive. The war is over, Father has died and I made a promise to him that I would restore Fairhaven, our rice plantation and my ancestral home. I pray it will still be a haven. I have mortgaged Fairhaven at the bank to take out a loan to buy rice seeds and what is needed. Our family has a summer cottage on Pawley's Island ~ Pelican Cottage. So many fond memories before mother died of the yellow fever. I was twelve. Now I am twenty-three and quite on my own. Papa's lawyer said I would be better off to sell and take a room in town until I marry. Marry? Our young men are gone, one way or another. I will be writing a monthly article of the Lowcountry for the editor of the New York Enterprise.
I have been here six weeks now. It has been hectic trying to get the crops planted and workers working. I had two little visitors this morning. Outspoken at that! Wanting cake when I have bread and butter to offer. Their father comes for them from nearby Willowood. They were a little worse for wear coming up the riverbank after losing his boat, but all is well. Hopefully for them their boat will resurface and they can reclaim it before someone else does.
19 O what great troubles and adversities hast thou
showed me ! and yet didst thou turn and refresh me; *
yea, and broughtest me from the deep of the earth again.
--Psalm 71:19 quoted from the Psalter of the 1728 Book of Common Prayer
I am in church but my eyes wander to this Psalm. Times are so different now.
Mr. Betancourt emerged from the church, his daughters rushing along in front of him. "Miss Fraser." He smiled down at her in a way that made her heart lurch. With his thick shock of dark hair and strong, even features, he was attractive as could be, but now was not the time to be distracted by sentimental feelings. Not when her future and the future of her plantation hung in the balance.
--Carolina Gold, 43
I dismiss him upon his asking if I will tutor his daughters. I have my own plantation to get in order. Times are hard for most, it seems. I suggest he send his daughters to Mrs. Allston's school in Charleston while he tends to his land, but he is adamant to keeping them at home since his wife's passing.
I refuse his offer of a ride, and walk on home. So much to think about, so many plans. I am awaiting our furniture Papa had stored upon selling our house in Charleston before his passing. At least he was spared the demise of our holdings.
The beginning crops are doing fairly well. I am expecting to retire my debt before it comes due at the end of a year's passing. I am determined, anyway, although most suggest I return to the city. But they are Father's friends and want the best for me. They tell me most experienced men have fared badly, what can I possibly think I can resurrect and restore what once was?
A horse and wagon are coming along the road. It is my Cousin Alexander! We thought him dead at Gettysburg. He has brought my belongings and is returning to Atlanta, leaving me the mare and wagon. That will be a help, but I could have used his help more. He tells me I am holding on to a vanishing dream.
After last night's storm, I walk Fairhaven looking at the damages to my pending livelihood. I hitch Cinnamon to the wagon and pay a visit to Mr. Betancourt at Willowood. It is time to consider other changes, for each of us. Possibly we can work together for the good of all.
As a primarily Historical Fiction reader, I liked the detail of this story. Southern Reconstruction following the Civil War was a time of regaining what was lost by some and gained by others. Role reversals were evident as those bound become free and those free become bound to the soil. Landowners were sent scurrying to prove ownership and properly record land grants passed from generation to generation. The yellow fever Charlotte's mother succumbed to, continued to rage these years later, affecting many persons at the same time.
I especially liked the beach visits at Pawley's Island.
The heron's dark shadow moved across the dunes. She thought again of days on this beach with Papa, of the lessons he'd tried to teach her. That life gives us loss and pain, and deep disappointments that often return as blessings. Maybe that was what it really meant to be restored. To somehow move from desperation to delight, from fear to faith.
The story is smoothly written with good communication between characters. I liked the descriptiveness throughout, easily bringing you there with them. The finish left me wanting to read further days in their lives.
Find out more about Dorothy at dorothylovebooks.com/.
***Thank you to author Dorothy Love and publisher Thomas Nelson for sending me an Advance Reader's Copy of Carolina Gold. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love takes place right after the Civil War, but for Charlotte Fraser the battles are just beginning. After her dad dies Charlotte returns to Fairhaven and is determined to save her families rice plantation. She meets many obstacles along the way. Lack of money, finding workers and supplies, not to mention, most people do not think that a woman should be doing the kind of work that she is doing, but Charlotte stays focused and determined to do whatever it takes to persevere.
To earn a little extra money Charlotte agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her neighbor, Nicholas Betancourt. Nicholas is a widow and has his own problems of trying to save his plantation. When Charlotte learns that Nicholas may have a claim on her land she becomes very distraught. Being the time in history that it is, the correct paperwork has been misplaced so the proof she needs is no where to be found. Once again, Charlotte becomes determined to uncover the facts that she needs to stay on her beloved plantation.
I love the determination of Charlotte and how she perseveres no matter what obstacles
come her way. I did find the book a little slow and hard to muddle through at times, but it was worth it towards the end when everything started to come together.
I also really loved the fact that the author was inspired to write this novel by a real live historical figure Elizabeth Waties Allston Pringle who lived from 1845-1921. I love when a historical fiction romance novel intertwines real life historical events within its pages and the author did a lovely job of this!
***This book was provided to me by the publisher through the booksneeze blog review program in exchange for my review.
In Dorothy Love's latest novel, Carolina Gold, Charlotte Fraser and Nicholas Betancourt meet as they both are trying to find the answer about ownership to some land in South Carolina (they each feel they are entitled to). In those times, shortly after the Civil War, answers were hard to find!
This novel was not as easy to read as Dorothy Love's previous novels; however, it is worth the time to learn the final answer!!
The Civil War is over. Her father is gone. Charlotte Fraser has only her rice plantation and an island cottage her father left her. She is determined to put the pieces of her life back together in spite of the fact that little is left of her former life, her father's slaves are now free, and little help to be found. She may just be able to make it if she can grow the rice her father was famous for, Carolina Gold. So many obstacles stand in her way and she has a loan to repay or risk losing Fairhaven so Charlotte agrees to tutor two neighbor girls to help pay the taxes and loan but gets more than she bargained for.
I selected this book simply because of the Charleston, SC area setting, never remembering having read any other novels by Dorothy Love but I wasn't disappointed. What I found was an author whose pen brings history to life and makes the reader feel as if she is part of the story as one who is learning to live in the aftermath of the Civil War when the southern way of life was totally turned upside down. Ms. Love is an author I will be looking for in the future as historical fiction is my favorite. I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and was in no way obligated to leave a positive review.