In a searing historical novel, Tonya Bolden illuminates post-Reconstruction America in an intimate portrait of a determined young woman who dares to seize the opportunity of a lifetime.
As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie's dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie is trapped between the life she has and the life she wants.
Until she meets a lady named Dorcas Vashon, the richest and most cultured black woman she's ever encountered. When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can't refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.
Review 3 out of 5 stars
I wanted to love this one, I really truly did. It gave me upper-class post-slavery, moving on up vibes--while it delivered that, in a languid pace--it left me wanting.
I'm just going to start right off when the things I didn't like. The story itself seemed on a path to something that by the end it didn't quite meet. It was aimless and plot-less if I can say so.
The writing itself is magnificent--engaging and truly believable for the time it was set in. From the dress and the language, it read like a Langston Hughes--Harlem Renaissance era novel. But as far as the intentions and the direction, it was a little muddled.
What I did enjoy however was the rags-to-riches side of the story. The main character did not allow a less than stellar upbringing deter her from creating the life she felt she deserved--and I am all for a heroine pulling herself up by the bootstraps and going for it.
I also rather enjoyed the look into post-slavery. It felt very realistic--and was easy to follow. The colorism and the ever-present distaste for black people, in general, was fitting for the time it was written in and was all too real for right now.
This author clearly has something. Her writing is on point but the story itself though again beautifully written was lacking a certain something to take it over. I'm definitely open to more--but there's more to be said here.