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Queen Sugar

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  1,164 ratings  ·  261 reviews
A mother-daughter story of reinvention—about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana

Why exactly Charley Bordelon’s late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah,
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 6th 2014 by Pamela Dorman Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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Susan I did not mention the interacial dating and the prejudice in the farming community toward a black woman farmer which are also themes

Community Reviews

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Charley is a young widowed, African-American, mother, living in Los Angles with her pre-teen daughter when she receives her father's sugarcane plantation in Louisiana.

A completely different environment and lifestyle --there will be many adjustments for both mom & daughter coming from Southern-Sunny California. (modern-city of he world) ....To "Miss Honey's" home in Louisiana, with no cell phone service, no computers, no call waiting, or caller ID, no coffeemaker, no blender, cable, or satel
I'd give this story a 2 but I'm adding a whole star for the cane. I really enjoyed learning about sugar cane.

This wasn't as eye-roll-worthy as The Fixer Upper though the two books are quite similar in that Dad gives yankee daughter property in the south and she has to go clean it up and make it work. Helpful men abound, bitchy old ladies terrorize, and handsome Suthrn Gentlemen come a-callin'
Charly isn't as dim and ridiculous as Dempsey, but she is still quite incapable. She's more like the inno
Angela M
3.5 stars

After reading this novel, I now know more than I ever possibly wanted to know about sugarcane farming . I have to admit though that it was interesting to learn about what a complex operation a sugarcane farm is .

The story too was complex in some ways and it was definitely not as predictable I thought it might be . Charley Bordelon , an African-American Art Teacher living in California with her 11 year old daughter can barely make ends meet. Life has not been easy so when her father le
This book was extremely difficult to read; I couldn't finish it. Not because it was overly challenging, there was just an absurd amount of over description. I can't count the number of times I read "with its..." or "like a..", followed by a run on sentence of descriptions that weren't integral to the development of the story. They were just descriptions for the sake of it. The story context was something I've never seen before and I would have liked to see how it turned out. The characters were ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, arc
You know what's strange for me about this book? It's very descriptive and meandering and yet I felt like the ending was rushed. I liked the story and characters - it was interesting to read about life in the South and what it would be like returning someplace like Charley does after so many years. I got increasingly frustrated with Miss Honey and her adamant stance on Ralph Angel, but at the same time, I found it very believable (I have seen this kind of behavior before). Like I said, though, I ...more
NetGalley Feedback: I started recommending QUEEN SUGAR to friends almost as soon as I started reading it, and I was jonesing for a mini-series adaptation* before I'd even hit the halfway point. In short, I LOVED this book, and I'm so glad that it was added to NetGalley for its paperback release because otherwise, it may never have hit my radar.

I loved getting insight into an industry about which I previously knew nothing (cane farming), and I loved that this is a story about a woman taking over
Book Concierge
From the book description: When Charley unexpectedly inherits eight hundred acres of sugarcane land, she and her eleven-year-old daughter say goodbye to smoggy Los Angeles and head to Louisiana. She soon learns, however, that cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley struggles to balance the overwhelming challenges of a farm in decline with the demands of family and the startling desires of her own heart

My reactions
I was intro
Robin Black
Natalie Baszile does an incredible job evoking Louisiana - I felt like I was there. Her writing is compelling and also beautiful, and her understanding of family and of human determination - and also human foibles - all have the ring of truth. This is an amazing debut novel - the first of many books, I hope!
Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of Queen Sugar. I would give this novel 3 1/2 stars. Baszille's first novel is set in Louisiana and tells the story of a young black woman -- Charley -- who grew up in California and moves to Louisiana after inheriting a sugar cane farm from her father. Her half brother -- who has a troubled past -- also moves back to Louisiana, and they all live with their grandmother Miss Honey and their respective only chil ...more
Nikayla Steinmetz
Wow! I don't even know where to begin complimenting this book! For starters this book was so beautifully written that I found myself reading passages over again just so I could let the beautiful images and descriptions appear in my mind again. The way Baszile described the fields and weather in Louisiana makes me want to pack my bags, rush to Louisiana, and set up shop right by the bayou. She really describes the culture and scenery in Louisiana in such detail that I don't have to go off on a se ...more
This was a good book and I'm still trying to figure out why. It seems to be a story that has been told, a black farmer trying to build a life and make the farm prosper. So what's new is that it is a black woman and it's also the way it was written. So it is the author's way with words that kept the page turning but also the family dynamics and wanting to know if things will really work out. It is also the determination of the main character. The author makes a point to insert the history of the ...more
What a wonderful debut novel from a talented author. This novel is one of new beginnings and closure. Charlotte "Charley" Bordelon inheits a sugar cane farm in rural Louisiana from her father, who left home many years before to make a life for himself in Los Angeles. Charley's inheritance comes at a time in her life when she is floundering and needs a change. Charley lost her husband four years ago and is now a single parent of their pre-teen daughter. Charley chafes at the way in which her moth ...more
Liza Wiemer
Queen Sugar is a lovely slow dance on a crowded dance floor. Natalie Baszile describes a life I knew absolutely nothing about: What it's like to be a sugarcane farmer. She hooked me in with the details and opened my eyes to a tough, powerful African American woman named Charley, who inherited the farm from her father. The mega-trials and tribulations Charley faces as a black woman, a woman, an outsider (she's from California and her farm is in Louisiana), the weather, and as a newbie farmer, are ...more
Queen Sugar
by Natalie Baszile
4 stars
pp. 372

I finished Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile a week ago and I'm still trying to come to terms with my assessment. The back cover is filled with glowing testimonials from such noted authors as Ruth Ozeki, Karen Joy Fowler, Beth Hoffman and Lalita Tademy with words like "sweeping, beautifully wrought...heartfelt beautiful and heartfelt and highly, heart-breaking" Perhaps the difficulty with my assessment comes from th
I read an ARC. the author may still alter the novel in some way.
I hope she keeps writing novels. This was not a bad debut.

Spoiler Alert:
Queen Sugar is a good quick read with only a handful of rough patches. The roughest patch (for me) is Charley's reaction to her half brother's death. Their relationship was never "close", but out of the blue she feels life was unfair to him. She then pledges her only possible reserve asset to her half nephew - a 7 yr old. Given her situation with financing the
Katherine Jones
Okay, here it is: at first I couldn’t get into this novel. With the likes of O, The Oprah Magazine, Joshilyn Jackson and Karen Joy Fowler raving about it, it left me wondering, What am I missing?

So I persevered, and I’m mostly glad I did. It gave me a new glimpse into today’s South, and it felt particularly relevant as, unlike so many big books on black/white relations (The Help, Calling Me Home), this one is written by an African-American woman. (Another notable exception: The Secret of Magic b
If you had ever suggested to me that I would read a book about a sugar cane farm and enjoy it, I would have said you were nuts. However, I got a chance to receive a copy of this book from the publisher and thought it sounded promising. Oh I am so glad I did. I thought this was a very engrossing book. It’s about a single African American mother and her daughter who move from California to Louisiana to run a farm she inherited. While I read more than I ever wanted to know about sugar cane, the cha ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Aryn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: beach readers
Shelves: fiction, library-book
Charley's father passes away and instead of leaving her money or properties in California, like she was anticipating, he leaves her a sugar cane farm in Louisiana, where he worked as a boy. I can only imagine Charley's reaction to be something like this:


A modern black woman who has spent her entire life in urban California, inherits a sugar cane farm in Louisiana, drops everything, and moves out (dragging her 11 year old kicking and screaming) there to try her hand at it. May I refer you t
This novel has two parts, one more satisfying than the other. One is the story of a thorny relationship between a (half-)brother and (half-)sister, tangled up in jealousy, insecurity, and status anxiety. Brother Ralph Angel is a convincingly drawn fuck up who lives a life of constant crises and can't help but screw up the second chances he gets; Charley is too overwhelmed living with the obligation to secure their father's legacy, and doesn't have time for Ralph Angel's nonsense. The scenes betw ...more
Anne Slater
I see this book as a movie, but the movie won;t do the book justice.

Great plot (African-American single mom's father bequeathes her a sugar plantation in Louisiana). She is determined to make a success of it, but.....

Great characters beautifully drawn: uncertain heroine, her feisty mother, her typically irritating eleven year old daughter, her self-serving brother, the community elder, the young man: if I say anything more about them, the opening-blossom of Baszile's prose will be spoiled.

I coul
Sarah Weathersby
Charley is a California girl, widowed with a young daughter. When her father dies and leaves her a sugar plantation in Louisiana, she sees it as a chance to start over, and be with the family back in St. Josephine, even though she knows nothing about the sugar business.

The author clearly did her research into the sugar business. The writing is lovely, but the story is very slow, sometimes like watching grass grow, or in this case watching sugar grow. Even the one love scene used the sugar cane c
Did I enjoy it? Yes! This was a well written story that touched on a lot of important themes including sexism, racism, classism, and things like strained family relationships. All of these themes were handled very well, and woven into the overarching narrative without being super obvious. I also learned a ton about sugar cane and the farming of sugar cane, so bonus there!
Would I read it again? Probably
Who would I recommend it to? If you're looking for a book that includes diversity, feminism, p
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
While the plot may seem a little improbable, a California girl returns to the Deep South of Louisiana to run a 800 acre sugarcane farm, this author makes it seem very plausible with her skilled writing, and subsequently a good book is birthed in the process. The protagonist, Charley Bordelon has inherited the sugarcane farm from her recently deceased father. Although she has been living in Los Angeles, CA for years, she decides to use this as a chance to start anew. So she uproots herself and he ...more
Mona Grant-Holmes
Charly (Charlotte) is a young widow raising her daughter, Micah, after her husband, Davis is killed during a mugging. Charly's parents are divorced; her mother, Lorna is successful opthamologist and her father, Ernest, is equally successful selling real estate. When Charly's father, Ernest dies, he leaves her a sugar cane farm in southern Louisiana (his childhood home)-800 hundred acres of some of the richest land around. Charly leaves Los Angeles; move; to Louisiana;makes a go of the farm and ...more
Inheriting a Sugarcane Plantation Brings Troubles and Romance

When her father dies, Charley Bordelon is surprised to inherit an 800 acre sugarcane plantation in Louisiana. She knows nothing about raising sugarcane. Her father wasn't a farmer either, but he mortgaged everything he had to buy these 800 acres.

Charley is a widow with a preteen daughter. She badly needs a fresh start and the only option is the sugarcane plantation. She settles in with her delightful grandmother, Miss Honey, and her o
May 09, 2014 Meg rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the story and the characters compelling and wanted to know what would happen next.

At times I felt like the information about sugar plantations was thrown in for the purpose of exposition. I like it when you almost don't even notice you're learning something because it feels like part of the story - which did happen *sometimes* in this book, but not all the time.

I thought it totally made sense that the author wanted us to understand Ralph Ang
There are a few stretches of jarring pacing here and there, but overall, this book is deeply engaging and readable. I'm so excited it's slated for an adaptation, not only because it's a very cinematic narrative but because it's exactly the kind of narrative we need to see and read more of.
Melissa Gonzalez
I enjoyed this novel about a young widow who inherits a sugarcane farm and moves her 11yo daughter from Los Angeles to south Louisiana. I was really drawn in by the descriptive imagery of the people and food and scenery of the place I grew up, and appreciated the dynamic of a modern “city girl” juxtaposed against the backdrop of cane farming, which is difficult, physical work that honestly hasn’t changed too much over the last few centuries. The story started off a little slow, and there were a ...more
Alison Law
Congrats to Natalie Baszile on her stunning debut novel Queen Sugar. I met Natalie when I moderated her panel at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in October 2014. Her fresh voice and lush descriptions of the Louisiana countryside enveloped me. Since then, it's been my privilege to work with Natalie on her paperback tour for Queen Sugar, which begins January 28, 2015, in Memphis, TN. If you like discovering new writers before they become big household names, you should get to know Nata ...more
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Natalie has a M.A. in Afro-American Studies from UCLA, and is a graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers where she was a Holden Minority Scholar. An early version of Queen Sugar won the Hurston Wright College Writer’s Award, was a co-runner up in the Faulkner Pirate’s Alley Novel-in-Progress competition, and excerpts were published in Cairn and ZYZZYVA. She has had residencies a ...more
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“It was like her father said: never make people glad twice-glad to see you come, and glad to see you go” 9 likes
“Charley thought of her father. He'd always told her she should never make assumptions about other people's time or their money, and that's the way she tried to live.” 2 likes
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