Spanning late 1700s to early 1800s, this novel's setting is a Southern Virginia slave plantation. The author's plentiful research is apparent in the exquisite attention to detail: plantation layout, antebellum decor, food preparation, clothing. There's even a jaunt to Williamsburg (my favorite part) which rings true for those who've visited that city.
The characters are just as richly detailed~Lavinia, a white indentured servant, and Belle, a slave fathered by the plantation owner are the main characters and narrators. Both of these voices are authentic and richly evocative of the ups and downs of daily life lived in the South. What ultimately soured this novel for me was the almost soap opera-like relationships of the characters. I know that slave masters and owners raped the female slaves, but that's only the beginning in this book. There are burnings and beatings and hangings, not to mention opium guzzling and babies dying right and left. I forgot which baby was which because as soon as one died, there was another born to take its place.
Still, the writing was so vivid, I won't soon forget this book.