see_sadie_read's review against another edition
I want to start out with praising Bahni Turpin for her narration. Historical fiction isn't a genre I gravitate toward and I don't know if I'd have made it through this one without Turpin's reading of it.
Next, I want to warn that there is a spoiler in this review. In fact, I should just get it out of the way. SPOILER: Bird does not give these characters their happy ending! Hopeful, I might call it (if 20 years too late), but not happy. I get that Bird may have been constrained by historical fact, but I was still hugely disappointed by this. (And there are so few details available about Cathy that I have to wonder if Bird couldn't have made it work if she really wanted to.)
Beyond that I appreciated the beautiful use of language (having the audio version really helped with this). And I thought Bird really highlighted some aspects of slave life that gets glossed over in a lot of fiction. For example, when everyone was up in arms over a white girls being kidnapped by Indians and a free slave asking, Who hasn't seen worse done to our by a Master? Or when a black soldier was speaking passionately about not wanting a white woman (as all white men seem to assume he does), but a black woman. These were moments that touched me and felt real.
A caveat: Maybe it is a simple reality of writing race, but I was never able to allow myself to forget that Bird is white. So, beautiful as these scenes might be, there was always a grain of "It feels right, but I'm white and she's white, maybe it only feels right to us who have never faced this head on. I hope that's not the case, but..." Certainly I've seen other reviewers take issue with some aspects of the representation. And there were definitely whiffs of Cathy being better than other slaves, which is problematic in the same way writing a female character that is somehow 'different' and 'special' and 'better' than 'those other girls' is inherently anti-female in general. So, I leave open that there may be problematic aspects I didn't highlight.
I did think the story repeated itself at times and dragged a bit through the middle. There were a few "too coincidental to be believed" moments (the prostitute scene, for example) and I just can't accept the ending. It looped around and gave Cathy something she'd wanted early on and left the possibility of happiness in the future. But that wasn't enough to really satisfy me. All in all, however, I liked it well enough.
nadoislandgirl's review against another edition
I want to give this a 3-1/2 star.
janiceh's review against another edition
jhurl's review against another edition
- Plot- or character-driven? Character
- Strong character development? Yes
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? No
katiehj's review against another edition
tiaowuma1's review against another edition
solson1974's review against another edition
imtyna's review against another edition
wondermajica's review against another edition
*I won a free ARC copy of this book from Goodreads giveaways.