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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.
In this new release from Dorothy Love, the inhabitants of South Carolina’s Lowcountry need to adapt to a new way of life after losing almost everything in the recent war. There is still bitterness after losing the conflict, and now they must endure the “indignities” brought on by Reconstruction. Furthermore, their former slaves now require payment for any work they do. Shortages of labor and finance – along with bad weather – make it highly unlikely that any of the rice plantation owners can start over, but Charlotte won’t take anyone’s advice to sell up and move to the city. As a stopgap measure, she agrees to tutor her neighbor’s daughters on a temporary basis, but when he goes missing on a trip to New Orleans his payments to her cease. Now she must play full time mother to these girls with even less income than she had previously. In an act of desperation, she makes a difficult trip to the Crescent City in an attempt to find their father.
Carolina Gold is less about rice cultivation and more about the rebuilding of lives post-war. It is about changing long-standing attitudes and relationships. Some characters are able to adapt and start over. For others, a resistance to change will have fatal consequences. Charlotte is one of those resistant at first, but eventually realizes practicality must win out over what is unworkable. Her two charges help her to see life differently as they swing between melancholy and playfulness. The descriptions of life in South Carolina and New Orleans in the late 1860s are richly detailed and will draw you into the narrative. This is a must read for anyone interested in life after the Civil War.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Litfuse for my free copy of Carolina Gold, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 10 December 2013
Page Count: 336
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