This is not a book to be read for enjoyment, not simply because it deals with the unpleasant topic of slavery. As several other reviewers have commented, there is not on likable character in this portrait of a southern, slave-owning family as told from the perspective of the white madam. But therein arguably lies its power and uniqueness. This isn't just a story about the, at best ,indifference, and at worst, hatred felt by the madam towards both her boorish & brutal husband & the slaves. That is the centerpiece perspective. But the slaves are not cast as warm and gentle souls but shown in all of their bitterness, anger & hatred. There is much brutality in this novel. It doesn't gift wrap it's ending. Indeed, many will feel it doesn't really have an ending. However, it tells a common story from a rare perspective & with absolutely no romanticization.