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Sugar Money

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  900 ratings  ·  174 reviews
Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 5th 2017 by Faber & Faber
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  900 ratings  ·  174 reviews

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Brown Girl Reading
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers
Recommended to Brown Girl Reading by: historical fiction lovers
Sugar Money is a very well written historical fiction that is based on a real even to that took place in Grenada 1765. Not knowing that much about the Caribbean I decided to pick this one up. I'm glad I did despite some of the torturous passages I read to read about the brutality the English put the slaves through. Chilling and horrific! This book is well worth the read and informed me on a bit of this period, 18th century Caribbean and slavery there. The story is full of suspense for the reader ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had this book as a group read and after 160 pages I gave up. I couldn't get into the story of slavery and its graphic portrayal. The pace of the book was so slow that I just wanted to jump to the last page and close the cover. The life has been sucked out of me so I'm going to stop here.
Paul Falk
This is one of those saddening times in history, specifically, for the inhumane treatment of people (slaves) on the islands of Granada and Martinique. The author allowed me to eavesdrop into the story that contained snippets of Creole (Kréyòl), a sprinkle of French and a dose of clipped English (no past tense, no plurals) of the period. Nicely done. Unthinkable punishment was routinely doled out for even the most minor offenses. Horrifying beyond imagination. This strong character-driven storyli ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5/5 stars.
When I started reading this book, I thought there was a spelling error. Then I found another one on the same page, and when I found a third one I realized that this was done on purpose. In other words, I quickly realized that the personal tone of voice and the language plays a huge role in “Sugar Money”, and I loved it.
This book is about two brothers living in Martinique in the 1700s. Emile is 28 years old, and Lucien is only 14 which makes him the youngest and therefore the one to
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars rounded up. The main character Lucien, a 12 year old slave from Martinique, is a highly charismatic and likeable character. The events in this story are based on a true account of an attempted escape of slaves. Lucien, with his love for the cows with the velvety ears on Martinique, his bravery and loyalty attempting to save his brother, and his gorgeous blend of Creole, French , English and a whole lexicon of made up words, was a delight.
Alice Lippart
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well written, engrossing and nearly impossible to put down.
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Now I have to start this review with an embarrassing confession – I had seen the title of this book mentioned in several end of year reviews and tipped for the Women’s Prize. Subconsciously though I had read the author as Joanne Harris – most famously author of Chocolat (a novel made into a film about a single mother opening a chocolaterie in Rural France – a broad sweet food-based theme she picked up in later books) and I assumed from the title that this novel would follow in a similar theme – ...more
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
At first I was reluctant to request Sugar Money because I'm a weakling at handling slavery stories sometimes. I turn into a puddle of sobs. But, despite being quite detailed about the hardships of slave life in 1765, it was a very engaging read. It doesn't have a very happy ending, as you might surmise, but it tells a story worth hearing, told very soberly and matter-of-factly. You can also read this review on my blog.

The Story Is Very Soberly Told

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Despite being a slavery st
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I mainly picked this book up because it is longlisted for the Walter Scott Award in 2018. I am fairly certain, I would have not picked it up otherwise as the other two books by Jane Harris were just ok for me. I am so glad, that I did pick it up though because this certainly had the wow factor for me. The story focuses on two slaves who have been charged by their owner to retrieve some slaves from a neighboring island which is now under British rule. It is a fool's errand and dangerous, but bein ...more
Find more reviews like this plus fascinating author interviews, exclusive guest posts and book extracts on my blog:

There were a number of things that attracted me to Sugar Money. Firstly, it’s one of the six books shortlisted for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2018 – always an excellent hallmark for quality historical fiction – and I’m attempting to read all the shortlisted books before the winner is announced on 16th June 2018. Secondly, t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this from in exchange for a review.

From the blurb, "Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission".

The language was absolutely unique to this story, using pieces and fragments of Creole (Kréyòl), a sprinkle of French and a dose of clipped English (no past tense, no plurals).

Good book.
(3.5) Weird book serendipity: I happened to read two novels set among the slaves of a Martinique sugar plantation and incorporating snippets of Creole language at the same time. (The other was Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated from the French.) What are the odds?!

If you’ve also read her first two novels, you’ll know that Harris writes rollicking and utterly convincing historical fiction, and here you can’t help but fall in love with the voice of 13-year-old Lucien. To render his no
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inhumanity
Is it possible to combine literary historical fiction that focuses on yet another instance of man’s inhumanity to man with a gripping adventure that keeps readers on the edge of their seats?

Before reading Sugar Money, I would have voted “no”. Horrific tragedies like the horrors of Caribbean slavery in the 1700s cannot and should not be minimized. And yet, Jane Harris pulls off this feat, so that at no time is the reader not invested in the human cost of this endeavor.

The storyline – inspired by
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I always say that I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but when I think back, some of my all-time favourite books are, in fact, historical fiction. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Jane Harris's first novel The Observations sit there on my 'much-loved books' shelf.

It's almost ten years since I read The Observations but the lead character of that story; Bessy Buckley remains one of my favourite characters ever. This author has such a skilled and thoughtful way of creating voic
Allison M
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 stars for this novel about slavery in Grenada and Martinique.

I don't think I can convey how good this novel is. Jane Harris is the writer of The Observations and Gillespie & I, both of which are memorable and wonderful, so I had very high expectations for Sugar Money - and my expectations have been surpassed, by a country mile.

It is 1765. Our narrator is Lucien, who may be thirteen or only ten years old but hopes to pass for sixteen. He is a slave, living on Martinique with his French masters
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
“Cane is sugar, sugar is money.”

This is a simple enough tale made somewhat challenging to read by the fact that it is recounted in a Creole patois, rendered here as kréyòl - this, rather patchily handled. Set in the Caribbean in the year 1765, it is based on a true story: Young narrator Lucien and his beloved older brother Emile are sent from Martinique to Grenada on a dangerous mission to retrieve forty-two French slaves plundered by the English.

Jane Harris is the author of two outstanding nove
Shirley Revill
I listened to the audiobook version of this book. Exceptional well written book. Highly recommended.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've not enjoyed a book this much in YEARS! It's completely rekindled my love of historical fiction. Jane Harris deals with a period in history, that is truly shameful and horrifying, with grace and without too much whitewashing, although I think there was a little...

Our narrator is 12 year old Lucien and I have to say that I've never read a book with such a rounded, believable, non-irritating, child narrator. He is wise beyond his years, speaks with broken English, has childish moments that rem
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it

This one really caught me by surprise. For a somewhat dry subject, Harris keeps the narrative flowing fast and keeps the reader, completely engaged, with plenty of adventure and suspense. Historical fiction at it's finest. Looking forward to reading more of this author's work.

Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Cane is sugar, sugar is money” Emile

This novel is almost like three separate novels in one! It is a sensational story of a brave adventure. Yet there are obviously added dark elements, due to the slavery theme. It is also a story of the bonds of brotherhood and love. It really will pull at your heart strings and you will root for brothers Lucien and Emile, with love and hope on every page!

Firstly, to start my review, I should say this is a beautiful book cover. The maps on the inside of the c
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been edited mainly for clarity.
Sugar Money is based on an unpublished manuscript which details the events of slavery smuggling from Grenada to Martinique. The author uses the fictional character of Lucien as the voice of the unknown author.

Set in 1765, Lucien, a slave mulatto aged 12-14 is commanded by Père Cleophas along with his older brother Emile to retrieve slaves that were left on a hospital plantation in Grenada. The French Dominican priests fled to Martinique after Gren
Mar 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am sorry to all of you who liked this book but I can not read anymore about man's inhumanity to man. When they were discussing an obviously factual slave situation in Grenada, I almost lost it when they described nailing the slaves ears to the barn wall and then cutting the ear off to release them but when they talked about putting excrement in their mouths, gagging them and then wiring their mouths shut, it was just too much for me. I hope someday to be able to erase this image from my mind. ...more
Rebecca Bowyer
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's been a few days since I finished reading  Sugar Money , Jane Harris's third novel. But I've still got Lucien, the 12-year-old narrator, chatting away inside my head in his mash-up of English, French and Creole. I'm still worried about whether he'll be okay. The characters in this book really do get under your skin that much.

Inspired by a true story, Sugar Money is Lucien's account of his mission, alongside his much older half-brother, Emile, to smuggle forty-two slaves from British-ruled
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing historical thriller.
Jos M
I had read a lot of positive reviews of this, but it seemed like a really tricky premise to pull off, so my expectations were not high. It was really excellent, thoughtful, well-observed, well-written, funny and tragic. It is about a time and place about which I know little, but there's not a learning curve in order to understand what is going on -- at least, I didn't find it so. In order to manage the high-wire act of the tone, Harris cleverly makes the narrator not the heroic, beautiful, roman ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I came to this hot on the heels of reading Harris' Gillespie and I, which was fantastic. This one...not so much.

The story concerns two slaves (Lucien and Emile) from 18th century Martinique sent on a dangerous mission by their French masters. Given the barbarism of slavery and the potential punishment that will await Lucien and Emile should they be caught, this book should have been edge-of-the-seat stuff. Instead, it was simply dull.

For me there was a lack of pace throughout and I never felt
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Huge disappointment. Any fan of Jane Harris would say that this book is nowhere near as interesting and brilliant as her previous books. The language is flat. The plot is predictable. She lost her twinkle.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Sugar Money” is a very unique novel (set in 18th century Martinique). It is about two brothers who are sent by their French master to convince slaves in Grenada to set sail with them to Martinique. The novel is actually based on true events.

The novel, despite the rather dark themes of slavery and persecution, is – for the most part- surprisingly light-hearted thanks to its being narrated by the 10 year old younger brother. In fact, for most of the novel, you feel as if you are joining the broth
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is different from the author's previous two books and is a true adventure story with continuous first person narration. It's a very accomplished feat because the narrator, a young slave from Martinique, feels entirely believable - his tone, the language used (a mix of the languages used in the islands), the emotions conveyed - everything is extremely consistent. The story itself, based on true facts, has all the condiments of a great adventure. And so, even though I'm not usually a reader o ...more
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You'll love this ...: December 2018 - Sugar Money 76 32 Jan 01, 2019 04:41AM  
ACPL Online Book ...: History brought to life ... 1 5 Mar 27, 2018 08:19AM  
Goodreads Ireland: March 2018 Sugar Money Spoiler Thread 2 15 Mar 24, 2018 12:54PM  

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There is more than one author with this name in the GR database

Jane Harris was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and raised in Glasgow. Her short stories have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines, and she has written several award-winning short films. In 2000, she received a Writer's Award from the Arts Council of England.

She started writing by accident while living in Portuga

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