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The Indigo Girl: A Novel

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An incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family's three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.

Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it's the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it's impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return -- against the laws of the day -- she will teach the slaves to read.

So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Based on historical documents, including Eliza's letters, this is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.

343 pages, Hardcover

First published October 3, 2017

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About the author

Natasha Boyd

23 books2,489 followers
Natasha Boyd (writing romance as Tasha Boyd) is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of both historical fiction and contemporary romance. Her historical fiction novel THE INDIGO GIRL was long-listed for the Southern Book Prize and was a Southern Independent Booksellers' Association OKRA PICK. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and lives with her husband, two sons and the cast of characters in her head.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,102 reviews
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,191 followers
October 1, 2017
4+ stars

If I didn't know that this was based on a true story, a real person in our history, I would have found it to be pretty unrealistic that in the 1730's, a British man would leave his sixteen year old daughter in charge of his plantations when he leaves South Carolina for Antigua to further his military career. There are several things that I really liked about this book. While this is a fictionalized account of the life of Eliza Lucas, it not only appears to be well researched, but excerpts of letters written by Eliza Lucas are interspersed throughout. Eliza Lucas was a determined, smart and tough woman who was in many ways, a woman ahead of her times. How heartening to know that in spite of the societal demands of the times, that there were women who were bold enough to do things considered to be only in the realm of men. She is remembered for bringing to SC the indigo crop that changed its economy.

The author in her notes tells which characters are based on real people and which are imagined. I always love to hear what the creative spark was that prompts an author to write a particular story. In this case, Natasha Rosenfeldt Boyd was attending an indigo exhibit in South Carolina and overheard a conversation between the gallery owner and one of Eliza's descendants. "I caught snippets of a story that would light a fire in me. It was a story about a sixteen-year-old girl who ran her father's plantations in her father's name. "This girl," the unknown person said next to me, unaware of my eavesdropping, " made a deal with her slaves : she would teach them to read, and in return they would teach her the secrets of making indigo." And thus the spark for this novel and the story of this young woman whose story is inspiring and relevant even today.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Blackstone Publishing through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,157 followers
October 4, 2019
This novel is an example of historical fiction that elegantly blends facts with author’s interpretation of them and imagination.
Incredible as it may sound, in 1739, Eliza Lucas, a sixteen-year-old girl is put in charge of the plantations in South Carolina by her father who leaves to pursue his political ambitions. The estate is in dire financial state, but intelligent, observant and with entrepreneurial spirit, Eliza comes up with an idea of producing indigo dye, so much sought after in Europe, and being the domain of the French.
I was invested in the story and was full of admiration for Eliza and her industrious undertakings. I liked her open mind to new ideas, perseverance and strong personality.
After I had finished reading Indigo Girl, I was more than surprised to learn that Eliza Lucas was not a fictional character, and that she is still remembered and celebrated to this day.

Profile Image for Dem.
1,190 reviews1,131 followers
July 13, 2019
I Love Reading accounts of strong women from history and The Indigo Girl is a powerful well written historical fiction story based on the life of Eliza Lucas a 16 years old girl who in 1739 takes over the running of her fathers plantations in rural South Carolina after he mortgages them in order to raise funds in pursuit of his military ambitions. Hearing how much French pay for Indigo dye Eliza believes its the key to her families salivation.

I happened upon this one by chance while browsing audible and had no idea who Eliza was or anything about the Indigo process but was curious when I read that book was based on historical documents and Eliza Lucas’s own letters and what an interesting and educational read this was. This was a horrible time in America’s history but a time that was real and therefore can not be forgotten.

I really enjoyed learning about Eliza Lucas and her remarkable accomplishments and while this was historical fiction the author’s note does explain what is fact and where she has embellished the story and why. I loved the descriptions of South Carolina and life of eighteenth century colonial society. The Indigo process was extremely interesting and well documented considering this was a historical fiction story.

A story that is well researched and written and the audio version is so good and added to my enjoyment of the novel. . I especially love when historical fiction brings attention to a person or event in history that I am not familiar with or might never have read about and I am so glad I got to read about Eliza Lucas and her accomplishments in the Indigo Industry.

Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction and novels such as The Kitchen HouseThe Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom or Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence HillSomeone Knows My Name.
Profile Image for Fran.
661 reviews632 followers
May 14, 2017
Sixteen year old Eliza Lucas has acquired an unexpected vocation. Living in South Carolina in the 18th Century, she must oversee the running of the Lucas family plantations including three tracts of land. Each plantation is run by a manager who oversees slaves as they work to plant and harvest crops in order to turn a profit. Eliza's father, nicknamed Big Lucas, has returned to Antigua, the family's original domicile, in order to advance his military career. Debt has accrued in his military venture and only successful crop production will keep the family afloat in South Carolina..

Eliza is no stranger to the running of the family enterprise. She has routinely assisted Big Lucas in recording family transactions. She is not the child of choice for this operation, however, her two brothers are away at school. The plan is for Eliza to keep the business solvent until her elder brother George can assume the reins. Eliza does not believe in convention, she believes in individual freedom. Women should not be chattel to be married off to unburden the family. Eliza will not settle for being a figurehead for the plantation...but...how will she be successful? Two of her plantations are heavily mortgaged to support her father's military aspirations.

Eliza is determined to grow indigo. Indigo is a weed that has been grown with limited success in Antigua. Perhaps it can grow in South Carolina soil. She enlists the help of neighbor and botanist Mr. Deveaux and family friend, lawyer Charles Pinckney, as well as trusted slaves Quash, Togo, and Sawney. Indigo is difficult to produce. Success is unlikely. Frost can destroy indigo seeds. Indigo stalks must be cut at the exact hour of their potency and before they flower. She is embarking upon an uphill battle.

Eliza Lucas is a teenager ahead of her time. While her mother worries about making a good match for her daughter, Eliza wants a husband who will treat her as an equal. She believes in compassion. Her slaves live in cabins free from draft, a dwelling has been built to serve as a schoolhouse and she has taught Quash and others to read. Her kindness has won her respect. There are those, however, who do not want Eliza to succeed and will thwart her efforts on a continual basis.

"The Indigo Girl" by Natasha Boyd is a remarkable historical account of a girl's determination to introduce indigo as a staple crop in South Carolina. Kudos to Natasha Boyd for creating Eliza's journey.

Thank you Blackstone Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Indigo Girl"
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,798 reviews2,389 followers
January 5, 2022


The Negroes were singing.
Light danced over the dark, inky ocean, and I blinked my eyes awake.
No ocean.
Just the faint blue of a breaking day casting over the white walls of my bedchamber.
A dream still clung damp to my bones. Always the same since I was a child. Sometimes threatening. Sometimes euphoric.
Breathing in deeply, I fancied the day held the weight of destiny.”

Thus begins Natasha Boyd’s The Indigo Girl.

This is a story of conspiracy and deception, love and romance, ambition and sacrifice, secret alliances and betrayal, of intimidation and trust. Trust given and trust earned. A story of free men and slaves, of a young women who dared to insist on her right to choose to marry, or not, who dared to assert herself as a woman as competent as the men who tried to intimidate her. A woman who dared to choose her path in life in Colonial-era South Carolina. Eliza Lucas was a woman who dared to be kind to her childhood friend from Antigua; a friend who returns to her life as a slave owned by the man her father has sent to teach her the ways of growing indigo and turning it into dye.

This would be a wonderful historical, fictional, story, a story that would inspire many, but what makes this an exceptionally moving and inspirational story is that Eliza Lucas lived and breathed, was a real woman who became known as the woman who changed agriculture in South Carolina. The Indigo Girl.

In the South Carolina of old, young sixteen-year-old Eliza Lucas is left in charge of her family’s plantations, her father has left in order to further enhance his position with the military, and has returned to Antigua, leaving Eliza, her mother and her younger sister there. It hasn’t been that long since he brought his wife and daughter to this plot of land seventeen miles outside of Charles Town, six by water originally purchased by her father’s father. Her two brothers are attending school in England, but in a few years, her brother George will be able to take over for her.

Eliza has had a formal education in a finishing school in England when she was younger, but she was encouraged from a young age to seek out more knowledge, to read, to follow her inquisitive nature. One of her interests was botany.

She has plans, which include a grove of oak trees with an eye to future ships needing the wood, but she is drawn to the indigo plant. She remembers the clothing she saw back in Antigua, and when she sees two women wearing skirts of that same rich blue when in town, she decides to look into growing indigo. A plant notoriously difficult to grow in South Carolina, subject to many failures in growing and many more failures in the process of being turned into dye.

Based on an immense amount of research including many historical documents and Eliza Lucas’ own letters—excerpts of some are included in this story—this is the story of a woman who was so highly regarded that, upon her death, George Washington requested to serve as a pallbearer at her funeral. In 1976, a marker commemorating the location where Eliza Lucas planted indigo seeds in 1741 was erected.

Published: 03 Oct 2017

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Blackstone Publishing
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,235 reviews146 followers
April 22, 2020
This is an excellent example of how a well-researched historical fiction book can bring lesser known historical figures to life— and make both their accomplishments and historical eras accessible to modern readers.

I loved Eliza Lucas and found myself annoyed at how little control she really had when all was said and done. She runs her father’s estates as if she were the heir, but she is often reminded by others just how little she is valued.

Although the story started off slowly, it really starts moving after her father leaves South Carolina and Eliza is left to deal with the plantations, her ill mother, younger sister, household, slaves and an experimental crop— indigo.

I found both Eliza and her story fascinating. Some characters may have been invented for drama but the author did an excellent job of reminding the modern reader just what Eliza was facing.

She’s been lost to history but this book gives Eliza Lucas her due.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
762 reviews569 followers
September 3, 2023
Why I chose to listen to this audiobook:
1. I love historical fiction, so I added it to my WTR list when it was featured on Goodreads;
2. it's available as a free loan on cloudLibrary; and,
3. August 2023 is my "Historical Fiction" Month.

1. through author Natasha Boyd's research, this was a fascinating look at the young woman, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, while managing one of her father's plantations, successfully brought the indigo dye industry to South Carolina during the early 1700s, a time when women had very little rights at all;
2. through the use of actual letters, Boyd carries this story neatly from beginning to end;
3. since this was an audiobook, I didn't have the privilege of knowing that an Author's Note was included (it is.) I prefer reading these sections first, as they give me an idea of what is fact and what has been fictionalized. Whatever format you choose to read, I highly recommend reading it for additional information; and,
4. interesting fact: the dark blue background of South Carolina's state flag is in homage to its indigo industry!

Waaaaaay too much cheesy romance in this book for my liking! Practically EVERY CHAPTER has Eliza focused more on her raging hormones for men who are "off limits" than on running her father's plantation. Even Charles Pinckney, an older and so-called "happily married" man, speaks quite inappropriately at times to this teenage girl. I experienced a lot of eyerolling and gagging (on my part) while listening to these details!

Overall Thoughts:
Eliza Lucas was a woman ahead of her time, but to a degree. Even though the woman introduced this massive "cash cow" to South Carolina, we must not forget that this state's rise in economy came on the backbreaking labor of slaves. I'm positive they weren't too thrilled with all the extra labor-intensive work forced upon them, all so that their "owners" could make a buck or two.

However, this was meant to be a story about Eliza. I just would have preferred this story to reflect more on her great love of botany showcased in orchards, crops, and gardens, as well as on her efforts to teach slaves to read, and less on the heavy romantic angle.

If you like historical romance, check out this book!
Profile Image for Liz.
2,145 reviews2,762 followers
August 12, 2021
I have been meaning to read this book for years. Thank heavens a book club finally forced me to actually do it. This is a well done historical fiction of life in 1739 South Carolina. A sixteen year old daughter is tasked with managing several plantations when her father returns to Antigua to pursue his military ambitions and possibly the governorship. As would be expected, she meets with resistance - from both her mother and most of the local society. What makes the story truly fascinating is it’s basis in fact. Eliza Lucas existed and truly did seek to grow indigo. She does it with the help of one of her slaves, a local lawyer and a slave apprentice whom she grew up with before her father sold him off.
Boyd does a great job of painting a complete picture of time and place, especially the slave culture of a southern plantation. It was also interesting to see how early issues between the colonies and England had arisen. She’s done her research, helped by Eliza’s actual letters. I was glad she included enough details about the actual indigo making process. There’s a bit of a romantic overtone to this book, which always irritates me. Luckily, it’s not overdone. I felt for Eliza, trying to walk the thin line between being successful and being accepted by society. And my heart just went out to her when I saw who betrayed her.
Bravo to Ms. Boyd for introducing us to another historical female woman whose significance was in danger of being lost.
Profile Image for Emily D-W.
54 reviews8 followers
February 8, 2019
I wanted to read this book because I am moving to South Carolina and because I am a historical fiction nerd. The story of Eliza Lucas was fascinating, but the story of the enslaved people working on her plantation seems to me to be less historical and more revisionist. The enslaved characters want to help Eliza - it is a team effort to grow indigo - she refers to them only as “servants” and nicknames them, teaching some men how to read. The way this book is written suggests that Eliza was a “good” slaveowner and almost glorifies the institution of slavery...I say, there is no such thing as a good slaveowner, and this book borders on suggesting that “slavery wasn’t all bad.” No thank you.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,299 reviews450 followers
December 3, 2018
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 because of the research. I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would midway through. It is a fictionalized account of the early efforts of Eliza Lucas to grow the first Indigo crop in SC, after being left in charge of her father's three plantations here when he returns to Antigua. She disdains marriage, and works hard to succeed at making the plantations successful. After a lot of trial and error and much help from slaves and neighbors, she does finally produce a small production of superior Indigo, which becomes the forerunner of one of the backbones of South Carolina's early economy. She goes on to marry Charles Pinckney and one of her sons is a signer of the U.S. Constitution. Quite a story of a remarkable woman.

Two very opposite qualities were at play in this book. One, it was very well researched and relied heavily on letters and documents from the period, 1739-1744. Most of the characters were very real people, and since I live in the Charleston area, the locations and place names and descriptions were very familiar to me. Two, there were times when the narration very nearly descended into romance novel territory, with heaving bosoms, tintillating glances, and burning sensations. The author saved herself each time by seeming to remember that this was more of an historical novel. I did check into her previous books, and they seem to all be in the romance novel genre, so I suppose old habits are hard to break.

Having said that, I did enjoy the story, and learned enough from it that I will check into some of the non-fiction works listed in the bibliography.

Fun fact I did not know: The SC State Flag has a deep blue background because of the importance of Indigo in the history of our early settlement.
Profile Image for Marialyce (on our way to Venice).
2,038 reviews709 followers
May 24, 2017
*****5 fantastic reading stars*****

*I received this ARC from Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Eliza Lucas is just sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their plantations in rural South Carolina. The year was 1730 when there were both Indian and slave uprisings. Her father returns to Antigua and has great military ambitions also wishing to become the governor of Antigua. He mortgages these plantations, unbeknownst to Eliza, because he is in need of money. Eliza, a strong willed brilliant daughter, resolves to make the plantation she and her family reside on, a success. The way she decides to do so is in the production of indigo. Her mother wishes for her to fail so that the family can return to England so she offers little to no support and actually thwarts Eliza's efforts.

Eliza, a botanist at heart, is helped by a neighbor botanist, a gentlemen lawyer, and her slaves who knew the secret of indigo extraction. They strive to make a go of it. Eliza is the epitome of courage and determination. She will get what she wants and entices the slaves to share their indigo secrets by promising to teach them how to read, something that was against the law. She forms hidden attachments to her slaves, spurns those who are against her, and sacrifices everything to make this dream of hers come true. Along the way Eliza is met with many adversities but through the support of a man who she will eventually marry and her slaves who she treats with fairness and concern, she succeeds. Her indomitable spirit at such a young age makes her a woman of that fosters admiration, strength, and resilience.

This novel is based on letters from Eliza and other historical documents. Through Eliza, her eventual husband, and the slaves, she is able to lay the foundation for the indigo industry that will eventually become one of the largest exports from South Carolina. It was quite an incredible book to read and enjoy as this little known figure in history came alive in this novel. Incredibly interesting is that no one really has heard of her exploits as she played a major role in the route that US history eventually took. Mentioned in the author's notes was that President George Washington was a pall bearer at her funeral.

Eliza was a independent woman hundreds of years before that came into vogue. Her achievements, given that it was 1730's and was a woman need to be both admired and made know so that all women know that no matter what constraints that are placed upon them, having the will and the determination to succeed they will eventually do just that.
Profile Image for Bharath.
643 reviews475 followers
March 14, 2022
I loved this and it is a very inspiring story of a woman I did not know about.

Eliza Lucas is only 16 in 1739, when her father leaves the farms under her care. The plantation is called ‘Wappoo’ since it is close to a creek by that name. They had moved from Antigua to South Carolina, and her father is going back to pursue his military ambitions. Her mother is much against this arrangement, more worried about looking for a suitor for her. This is a time when there is also some unrest among the slaves, which has also resulted in deaths. However, it is agreed that this can continue till her brothers are of age and can take over this responsibility.

Eliza takes to the job with sincerity. She initially thinks of having cotton, ginger or rice plantations, but is fascinated by the Indigo plant used to make dyes. She is warned that it has been tried by others and failed – quite possibly the weather & soil is not suitable for it in South Carolina. Eliza recalls that when they were in Antigua, a slave by the name Ben had the skills to make Indigo and wished he was here with her. She regards Ben more as a friend, but this is obviously not a period where such friendships can flourish. Her father informs her that Ben has since been sold to another family and is not available. Eliza makes a first attempt with some seeds she manages to get hold of, with help from the slaves on the farm, but it fails due to frost.

Eliza rejects attempts to find matches for her, instead focusing on Indigo. To her surprise and delight, Nicholas Cromwell arrives with Ben as his slave, at the direction of Eliza’s father. Ben is initially distant with her, and she realizes the toll slavery takes. She teaches the slaves to read using a loophole in the ‘Negro Act’ which specifically prohibits teaching writing, with no mention of reading (this is assumed to be the case since the slaves can read the Bible). She also grows to be close to Charles Pinckney who owns another farm, and Eliza is also on good terms with his wife. She and her slaves then make a second attempt at growing Indigo but that finally fails as well. She is horrified when she realizes that there has been a sabotage to get her to fail with lime being added.

Eliza Lucas, however, is not one to give up, and neither will she allow presumptions on what women can or should do to bog her down.

This book is set between 1739 and 1744, and stops at the time of her deciding to get married. The epilogue covers her life after briefly, including the impact she had on the South Carolina economy. She and Charles enabled many other growers to be successful and export their produce. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington at his request was a pallbearer at her funeral.

This is a very inspiring and well told story of a remarkable woman. The author covers in the end on what parts are a little fictionalized. Overall, the book stays close to the historical records, and Eliza Lucas left many written notes and letters.

I listened to the audiobook which was very well narrated.

My rating: 4.5 / 5.
Profile Image for Irene Sim.
743 reviews83 followers
August 31, 2020
REVIEW OF 07/08/2017
4,5 stars!

I thoroughly enjoyed this story! Natasha Boyd’s magical pen has worked miracles again and in a brand new gender for her. She managed to merge historical facts and people into a fascinating tale that kept me transfixed till the last page.

Eliza Lucas is a woman ahead of her time. And I say woman because even if she’s only 16 years old she is mature in mind and spirit beyond her age. A twist of fate has Eliza, instead of marrying off to some featherheaded nobleman to appease her mother, stepping in her father’s position as head manager of his estates in South Carolina, at least until her younger brother becomes of age to assume responsibility.

Eliza is no stranger to the estate’s affairs, her father’s been training her for many years and she’s been acting as his aid keeping his correspondence and accounting books.

It’s unfathomable the burden that is laid upon her young shoulders. Not only she has to make profitable decisions about crops, sales etc, she also has to discourse with managers, bankers, sales-persons and manage the slaves, all in her father’s name because she is a woman and her gender induces no respect.

Her courage is inspiring, her determination admirable. With her kind heart, fairness and ambition she manages to overcome all obstacles and win over respect from her slaves to her most strict competitors.

There were times in the story that I totally hated her mother. Not only she is incapable to provide the smallest amount of help in managing the household, she keeps sabotaging Eliza’s attempts. But then, she’s the typical woman of her age and can’t help herself from being small-minded and socially confined.

I have to cut half a star from my rating because I was annoyed by the evolution in the relationship between Eliza and Ben. I have to say that the whole romance aspect of the book was unsatisfying for my tastes but the rest of the story is so powerful that I find this lack insignificant.

The reading experience is enhanced by the interval addition of original letters from the real Eliza Lucas sent to her father in Antigua and her nanny in England that shows her hopes, aspirations and frustrations and are in total harmony with the person’s character presented by Natasha Boyd.
An excellent attempt at historical fiction! I would recommend it to EVERYONE who loves the gender.


Arc provided by Blackstone Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I can't believe I was granted an arc for Natasha Boyd's new novel. She is one of my favorite authors! (Happy dancing)

For Readathon-2017: 36/52
In the category: "A book in which the protagonist is a historical person"
Profile Image for Jess.
684 reviews5 followers
December 1, 2017
I wanted to love this book, but it was just ok. The history of Eliza Lucas Pinckney is so fascinating, but this author chose to spend a whole lot of time on her imagined inner romantic thoughts about the men in her life instead of focusing on her accomplishments. The invented character of Benoit and Eliza's fantasies about him - just unnecessary. Disappointing.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews605 followers
March 17, 2022
Audiobook read by Saskia Maarleveld
…..10 hours and 32 minutes
…..included ‘free’ with an Audible membership

….The voice narrator was excellent….
….The story itself dragged on a bit too much …and felt a little predictable.
….The dramatic romance embellishment (especially towards the end) was a little sappy…
….Eliza Pinkerton’s assertive, unruly character as a young plantation manager during a period of history when women had essentially no rights to own property or run a business … was in itself an inspiring platform to stand on.

It was fascinating to learn about the ways to grow indigo successfully, and the making of indigo dye.
I didn’t know anything about how profitable and competitive the market was.
I never thought about it anymore than I did about the marketing of Post cereals.

Because of Eliza’s success growing indigo in South Carolina, (1774), she shared her crops with other planters leading to a huge expansion.
Volumes of indigo dye exported increased dramatically in just a few years. Indigo became second only to rice as the South Carolina colonies commodity, and contributed greatly to the wealth of its planters.

The fiction, family saga aspects mixed with the historical details were good in an intimate-storytelling style.
[father, mother, daughter, son, neighbors, love interest, racial injustice, a stand for justice, slavery, society norms,
and a feisty hard working colonial woman]

Natasha Boyd has a flair for historical storytelling.
This book is not without flaws— but it was still good!

I’m reminded of making tie-dye T-shirts years ago…. at a time when I never even thought about where the dye came from…
And I cherish my ‘Blue Jeans’ 👖
….the durable denim made with indigo dye.

It’s easy to forget that indigo was once a very rare commodity…
that those extracted leaves from the indigo plant was only available to the wealthy.

Is there a person living today that has never worn a pair of indigo blue jeans?

History continues to give us comfy treasures every day we often don’t even think about!
Comfy blue jeans too!

3.5 -3.8 star rating …. rating up.
Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
965 reviews1,248 followers
September 29, 2017

Title: The Indigo Girl
Series: Standalone
Author: Natasha Boyd
Release date: October 3, 2017
Cliffhanger: No

Lately, I've been searching for books that are outside the contemporary romance sphere. Has it been because I've read the same thing too many times, or are original plots about unique characters genuinely becoming more scarce? I can't say. Here's one thing I can say with certainty:

The Indigo Girl is special and it deserves to be voraciously devoured and appreciated by readers. Those who are hungry for a story that will move them and linger in their minds. You WILL soak this story up like a sponge, passionately shouting your enthusiasm to anyone who will listen.

It's that kind of book.

Like me, it's very likely you'll say to yourself, "How did I not know about this incredible woman?" She was so revered and respected that our first president publicly acknowledged and honored her contributions to the country. In colonial America, women were quite literally dismissed as silly and inferior as the general rule. Yes, gender inequality is alive and well today. But there's no comparison to how women's choices were taken away and their lives completely controlled in Eliza Lucas' time. The enormity of what she accomplished is immeasurable. Especially when you consider that this was a teenage girl who shattered the limitations placed around her by society.

Eliza grew up in the Caribbean island of Antigua, and moved to South Carolina with her affluent family as a young girl. With racial and political tensions rising, moving off the island was a move considered for everyone's safety. She and her father developed a close relationship as she matured, one that grew out of respect and love. He unconventionally fostered her fascination with botany and her interest in the management of the numerous plantations they owned.

If I loved someone would that be enough when I no longer had the satisfying business of a plantation to run? My drive to succeed and improve our lot, as unattractive a quality as Mama said it was, couldn’t be helped.

Encouraging interests outside of finding a husband was virtually unheard of in those days. However, as the oldest sibling of four, she was depended on to help as her younger brothers obtained their education in England. When her father leaves to report to the British Army, his desire to rise in the ranks of the military lead him to entrust their plantations in Eliza's capable care. Much to his wife and many neighbors' dismay.

Unbeknownst to Eliza, her family's livelihood was quickly deteriorating due to her father hemorrhaging money towards his military ambition. She soon realized that with their homes heavily mortgaged, they were barely scraping by and paying the bills. One wrong move, and the whole house of cards would come tumbling down.

I felt like I was holding on too tight to everything . My ambitions, my emotions … I feared they would soon slip through my fingers and unravel at lightning speed.

Her solution was diversifying into the extremely profitable, but mysterious indigo plant. Everyone knew that the dye extracted from indigo was highly sought after and desired. The challenge wasn't just finding someone willing to share the delicate process of accurately producing it. There were few that had faith that a slip of a girl could succeed where so many men before her had failed. But she didn't let that stop her, because she had nothing to lose. With the faithful help of her neighbor, Mr. Pinckney, she set out to prove everyone wrong.

Intertwined with Eliza's urgent struggle to prove her worth and bridge an independent life for herself, is a heartrending story about forbidden friendship. Ignorance and hatred separated two children whose bond could never have been accepted. The boy she knew in Antigua had been sold, but never forgotten. And his reappearance in her life had an immense emotional impact on her.

Our friendship was the friendship of two connected souls who’d met in the shade of trees on a sugar plantation when our hearts were pure.

This book made me feel so much, and not all of it was comfortable. Boyd doesn't shy away from depicting the horrors and injustice of slavery. It was enough to make your chest ache and your throat clog, thinking of the silent suffering that was endured. Eliza's mother enraged me on so many occasions. She had absolutely no sense of her daughter's strength and courage, often belittling her, or intentionally preventing her from succeeding. Her ambition for her daughter began and ended with marrying her off, while her brilliant and progressive mind was stifled.

Treachery, betrayal, and tragedy pave the path to Eliza's dreams. Told in Natasha Boyd's beautifully descriptive narrative, The Indigo Girl captivated me, inspired me, and transported me to a volatile time filled with terrible despair and fragile hope. Eliza Lucas dared to reach for the impossible and changed the course of history. Even if you're not typically a reader of historical fiction, I believe you should give this powerful book a chance. It's been almost a week since I finished reading it, and my mind is still drifting back to Eliza's remarkable story. It's one I can easily say that I won't soon be forgetting.


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Profile Image for JimZ.
1,062 reviews495 followers
July 10, 2020
I thought this was a very good read —the writing was pretty good and her story line held my attention throughout. A solid 3.5 stars so rounded up is a 4. The novel tells the story of Eliza Lucas, the indigo plant, and the great difficulty and the skills needed to extract dye that could come from the plant, indigo dye. The time was 1739 and the place was one of the colonies of England, South Carolina.

Eliza was a young white woman (actually 16 years old at the beginning of the novel) who was given the responsibility by her father to run the family plantation in South Carolina. The father had gone back to Antigua to maintain his commission in the Armed Services to the Crown, but had every confidence in his daughter that she had the smarts to manage his business dealings and plantation. The main crop they grew was rice, but Eliza was fascinated with the possibility of growing indigo.

Indigo is a color in the visible spectrum, as well as one of the seven colors of the rainbow: the color between violet and blue. Back in the day, it was an extremely rare dye to produce. Only several countries in the world produced it and it commanded a very high price. It was almost unheard of to grow the plant that produced indigo in the American colonies because the climate was not well suited to the plant. But Eliza through a neighbor who was an amateur horticulturist learned of it and was hell-bent to grow it.

Eliza was the principal protagonist — other principal players were:
• Ben, a black man who was once her best friend when they were both very young but then he left the plantation only to return as a young man who knew how to grow the indigo plant and the process of producing dye from it.
• Ben’s “master”, Mr. Cromwell, who was white and who supposedly was the expert of producing indigo dye, and was out for number one (himself) and nobody else.
• Sarah, a young black woman who was a slave and had a young child because her “overseer” had non-consensual sex with her.
• Charles Pinckney, a white married lawyer who was friends with her father and offered assistance to Eliza whenever she asked for it.

I think the author characterized this novel as historical fiction. This is what she said at the end of the book: “The story that you just read was based on true events and historical documents. However, as with any fictionalized version of history there are elements that had to be created to demonstrate character to give fabricated reasons for actions where the truth behind certain deeds has been lost to time.”

The story in this novel takes place in the context of slavery, and in the hierarchy of males over females.

One disconnect to me about the novel was a description given in the synopsis of the novel in the inner flap of the dust jacket — it said that her father left her in charge of their family’s three plantations, and then “proceeds to bleed the estates dry in his pursuit of his military ambitions.” As if his actions were selfish and malevolent, but that is not the impression I got from reading the actual novel. Maybe I missed something.

One word I learned for this novel occurred in this sentence: “I must thank you and Mrs. Pinckney for being so accepting in light of my hoyendish reputation.” That comes from “hoyden” which is “a girl or woman of saucy, boisterous, or carefree behavior”. 🧐

https://historicalnovelsociety.org/re... (Issue 82, November 2017)
from a blog site: https://whatcathyreadnext.wordpress.c...
Profile Image for Afton.
205 reviews3 followers
January 13, 2019
I have so many problems with this book. Spoilers below, fyi.

First of all, she has slaves from day one to the end of her life, yet is portrayed as pure hero for the entire book. The afterword makes much of the fact that she eventually frees Quash, one of her slaves from her plantation full of slaves. The cliché that a slave owner who doesn't beat his/her slaves is a hero? I'm so over it.

Here, I'll interject that I'm fine with protagonists who aren't perfect. But don't write a book about a perfect, glorious hero when we can see a bunch of flaws that are obviously there and go completely unaddressed.

My other biggest issue is Eliza's relationship with Charles. They are flirting, seeking out times to be alone, basically confessing to burgeoning romantic feelings, all while Charles' wife is alive and healthy! And then when his wife is dying, on her deathbed, she gives Eliza permission to go after Charles. And so then I guess Eliza is supposed to be totally safe from any judgement by us on that point? That did not fly with me.

Related to that^, why on earth did the author make up the character of Ben? And make him wonderful and honorable, and in love with Eliza? And she with him? And then have him die and have Eliza marry Charles and expect us all to be excited about this beautiful love story?
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book563 followers
December 5, 2018
3.5-Stars, rounded down.

In the modern-day world where women feel liberated and equal, I wonder how many could take on the running of three plantations and assume the responsibility of dozens of people at the age of sixteen. That is what Eliza Lucas did in 1740s South Carolina, and in the process she cultivated the crop that saved the colony, indigo.

I loved the historical aspects of this novel. There was so much that was genuine, including the excerpts from Eliza Lucas’ actual letters. On the flip side, the contrived part of this novel seemed contrived to me. But then, in a life as improbable as Eliza’s, I suppose all things are possible.

The book started off slow and a bit simple for me, but it improved after a while and I did quite enjoy it by the end. It inspired me to know more about this woman and to wonder why she isn’t included in our American history books. After all, George Washington requested to be a pallbearer at her funeral.
Profile Image for Maureen.
347 reviews82 followers
February 19, 2020
Indigo Girl is a wonderful historical fiction novel, based on the life of Eliza Lucas.It is set in 1739 South Carolina. Eliza st the age of 16 is left with the responsibility of her father’s plantations. Her mother is ill and her brothers are away from home. Her father leaves for Antiqua to commence his career
This is a time where a woman is not allowed to own property. Their goal is to marry well.

Natasha Boyd has blended facts and fiction to tell this remarkable story. There are many documents left by Eliza that tell her story in this book.
It is an amazing story of determination and courage.

Eliza is left with many debts on the properties and wants to please her father by being successful in riding these debts.
Many frown on her, she is just a child want does she know. Her own mother just wants to get her married and forget about all her nonsense.
Eliza has the foresight to grow indigo. After many failures, she is finally successful. Her Indigo is said to be even better than France’s.
Eliza becomes a heroine for South Carolina.
Before I read this book, I knew nothing about indigo. This novel is a wealth of information on this subject.
I think all who liked to read about strong woman should read this book.

Profile Image for Annette.
798 reviews382 followers
June 21, 2018
This book brings a story of a remarkable young woman who became a footnote in history and the author brilliantly revives her appearance from the past.

Set in South Carolina in the first half of the 18th century, when Charleston is known as Charles Town, Eliza Lucas conveys her extraordinary story.

At the age of 16, her father leaves her in charge of their plantations, while he travels to Antigua to further his political ambition.

While inspecting plantations before her father leaves, she learns about indigo, used as a die of dark blue. Indigo is known as hard to cultivate and the dye-making process might be even harder.

Her love for botany makes her eager to experiment in horticulture. And her determination to succeed makes her commit to trying and retrying to harvest this plant.

This story fiercely captures Eliza’s spirit and desire to succeed. It is so profound; it will linger with you long after you are done reading.

This book reminds me of Help by Kathryn Stockett, which went straight to stardom and the big screen.

Profile Image for FMABookReviews.
635 reviews394 followers
October 2, 2019
OMG YOU GUYSSSSS!!! Have you ever read a book out of your normal comfort zone? Like one that isn't remotely what you would normally read but you ended up LOVING IT all the same???
❝It was so unlike me, but yet, it was me. Something was unfurling within me from behind the fear of societal expectations. Something true and deep. A part of my soul I'd always known was there but never acknowledged. I knew I'd never completely stop playing the role assigned to me in this life, but I would never ever let it compromise me.❞

'The Indigo Girl' by Author Natasha Boyd was PHENOMENAL! There was so much passion within the pages of this book that my heart ached! ACHED!

This is not a typical romance, so don't go into this book expecting that. But 'The Indigo Girl' was filled with passion; passion for life, for love and humanity. It was a story filled with guarded intimacy, and forbidden love, a story that reminds you what it is to be human! And this piece of fiction is BASED ON A TRUE STORY!!! It was incredibly inspiring.

Based on true life, 'The Indigo Girl' tells the story of Eliza Pickney. At 16, her father leaves her in charge of his plantations in the Carolinas. Her two brothers (the rightful heirs at that time) were away at school in England. So when her father had to return to Antigua, it was just Eliza, her mother, and younger sister. The family needed a Hail Mary to survive while her father was gone. They could not sustain all of the plantations they owned and her father's commission. It was up to 16-year-old Eliza to find a way to financially sustain her family.


One day while touring one of her families plantations, Eliza sees clothing on the women that reminds her of the Indigo her beloved Ben used to make. Having grown to love horticulture, she wondered if she could grow Indigo, there, in South Carolina. And if she could, would this be what saved her family?

Not having seen her friend in many years, Eliza petitions her father to send Ben to teach her how to grow Indigo. Her father denies her request. Both for Eliza's reputation and the safety of her friend. Ben is the first friend Eliza made as a young girl and grew to be her best friend. He was also a slave. So Eliza presses on, she studies and asks questions. She befriends people and slaves who have experience growing seeds similar to Indigo as well as those who have knowledge of Indigo.

Eliza was put in a precarious position. On the one hand, her father left her in charge of plantations and slaves. Her father wanted her to save the family of financial ruin or at the very least, keep the family afloat until her brother came of age and could take over in her father's place.

On the other, her mother was dead set on marrying her off. Women weren't celebrated for their knowledge, this was a time when women didn't have power or a voice. Her mother didn't understand Eliza's exuberance, her independence, nor her strong sense of self. Eliza wanted to work. She was strong willed and had opinions. As a 16-year-old female, men were more interested in patting her on the head or dismissing her entirely than they were with accepting that she might be intelligent enough to make good decisions. Her value and worth were only what she could bring to a marriage and how she could provide for her husband.
❝This was perhaps my only chance to show my father I was destined for more than being some man's wife. Perhaps one day. But not yet. What was wrong with being a spinster anyway?❞

I so admire Eliza Pickney. She had a strong sense of right and wrong. Her fortitude was admirable. She was strong before her time. Had she been born today, she would have been celebrated for her ideas and her intelligence.

This story evoked a myriad of emotions in me. I cried from sadness and I cried from anger. But I also gained a sense of appreciation for how far our gender has come!

I first read this author when she penned 'Eversea', and the follow-up book, 'Forever, Jack'. I liked those well enough. But 'The Indigo Girl' was a superb! I am so happy that Natasha Boyd felt compelled to tell the story of such an amazing woman. While parts may be fiction, it is clear that Ms. Boyd did her research.

Phenomenal! Exquisite! Passionate! I didn't want it to end!


**I was voluntarily provided this free review copy by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion of the book nor my review.**

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Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews798 followers
February 4, 2018
I'm a bit on the fence when it comes to this book. I found Eliza Lucas to be an interesting historical character and as always is it interesting to learn more about someone that influenced US history so much with her striving to produce indigo dye. One the other hand was the addition of a childhood friend, a slave boy that her father sold and who later turned up as an indigo expert together with the man who owned him (who claimed to be the indigo expert of course) contrived. I have no problems with changes to a historical figures life (if it works), but in this case, I just couldn't really find myself enjoying that aspect of the book.

I was more interested in her own struggled with being a girl in a man's world, she's left to run the plantations when her father goes back to England since her brother is still too young. However, her time is limited since as soon as her brother comes of age will he take over. But, meanwhile, is she trying to produce indigo, which is the most interesting part of the book. Her willpower, the struggle against everyone that believes she will fail.

I listened to the audio version of the book and it was an OK book. I never really loved the story, but it was interesting to listen to and get a bit of a history lesson about indigo and how important it would be for the future of the US.
Profile Image for Ink_Drinker.
185 reviews248 followers
September 8, 2021
This story is about how Eliza came to create South Carolina’s indigo industry against all odds. At sixteen years old, Eliza’s father left her to manage his tree plantations as he went off to pursue his military endeavors. Upon hearing how much the French paid for indigo dye, Eliza believed it was the key to their salvation. Nobody believed in her nor were they willing to help her make indigo dye. So, Eliza made a deal with a plantation slave...he will teach her how to make indigo dye and she will teach the slaves to read, which was against the law at that time.

The author did such a fantastic job of building the relationships among the characters, she had me vested from the first chapter. I love strong female characters and I often find myself rooting for the underdog and in this case, I was cheering Eliza et al, all the way until the end! It’s very inspirational to read/listen to a story based on facts about strong women in our history and I am so glad that Eliza’s story has been told.

Narrator, Saskia Maarleveld , was the perfect narrator for this book. She has the most beautiful voice and it was very fitting for the main characters and she was able to really bring them to life. Sakia is one of my favorite narrators and I always enjoy the book more when she is reading it to me.

I highly recommend this book to any historical fiction fan or for anyone interested in strong women in US history. If you want more information about Elisa Pinckney, as I did, you can google her and see some pictures and more details of her and learn more about this important figure in our history.
Profile Image for Camie.
916 reviews192 followers
December 12, 2018
Need a good book featuring an unlikely heroine who deserves to be more widely known? This story of downright feisty Eliza Lucas who is very uncharacteristically left in charge of her father's 3 plantations in South Carolina at age 16 as he must leave the country to pursue his military ambitions is one that perfectly fits the bill. Without it having been based on a very real character who will make an indelible mark on the history of the South by learning to grow indigo as the French did, while making courageous decisions, and treating her inherited slaves as valuable friends, it may not have been believable. True to the nature of historic fiction , the author freely admits to adding a few characters and events to emphasize Eliza's youthful nature including several love interests, ( both involving some huge issues like that of the rare possibility of a slave/ master relationship or one that defied the cultural class system of the time) and others showing her propensity to kindness, proper treatment, and a yearning for understanding which unfortunately often caused a mix of good and bad results for her plantation workers.
I'm not from the South and had no idea that the South Carolina flag is blue because of the importance of Indigo in it's history, or that it was a 16 year old girl who was responsible for it's success. Southern Living, says this book should be on your reading list, and I agree.
Read for On The Southern Literary Trail - 12/18
Profile Image for Korrie’s Korner.
1,120 reviews13.6k followers
April 22, 2022
Why on God’s green earth has it taken me so long to read this masterpiece of a book! I am clutching this book to my chest right now wishing that Eliza Lucas was here today! What a fierce, smart and passionately written heroine! She is definitely one of my favorites! Everyone and their mother should read this book! The fact that it’s written about the very city I live in fills me with unbelievable pride. This woman, Eliza Lucas, was such a pillar to Charleston from her contributions that she made that George Washington himself wanted to be a pallbearer at her funeral!

I love that Eliza pushed the boundaries that society placed around her unapologetically. I love that she was not having this “finding a husband business” that her mom was constantly peddling. Eliza had a mind of her own and would not allow herself to be “dumbed down” just for the sake of having a man. Eliza was a visionary and she would do it herself!!

Eliza changed the course of history itself and the SC flag is still blue today in honor of her indigo contribution! What a woman!! This book will be scored on my heart for a long time.
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,496 reviews405 followers
July 10, 2020
2.5-3 stars

I am a fan of historical fiction and Natasha Boyd but I’m afraid this book didn’t thrill me in the way I was hoping it would. I will keep this fairly short but also aim to explain my thoughts and feelings. This is not romance, I would consider this straight historical fiction which might confuse other Natasha Boyd fans as she is known for successful contemporary romance. This wasn’t a problem for me per se, but there were two different strands of suggestion of romance and both of these storylines lacked depth and execution for my taste.

The story of a strong young woman coming of age with huge responsibility was an interesting concept and I wanted to be engaged but a slow start made investment difficult. I felt more pulled in at 25% and I found Eliza’s botanical endeavours initially interesting but eventually less so in the long run. The stories of the slaves were the most interesting narrative about this book. On the whole, I wanted more excitement in terms of storyline and a little more in character development.

Whilst this book wasn’t eventually what I expected or wanted, I’m sure some will enjoy this tale, the setting and the depth it conjures. THE INDIGO GIRL excels in description and painting the landscape. I remain a fan of Natasha Boyd and just wish my review could have been more favourable.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through netgalley, in return for a honest review.
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,097 reviews675 followers
July 16, 2022

This was one of those times were everything just came together. Characters, plot, pace, subject and themes all worked together to create a wonderful reading experience.

❤️ What I Loved ❤️

Eliza: The first thing I fell in love with was our female lead, Eliza. She was one of those characters that you just can't help but admire. She was determined to make her dreams come true. She was feisty when people told her that her dreams were out of reach for woman. She was stubborn and didn't give up even when things were tough. And she had empathy for those who had less than her.

Plot: The plot revolves around Eliza's attempts to grow indigo plants at her father's plantation in South Carolina. What I really liked about the plot was how straight forward it was. A lot of things happen to Eliza and the indigo, but the plot never tries to be too clever or complicated. It was nice to just be swept along.

Pace/u>: Nice and steady, the plot rolled along at an even pace. It propelled me to keep reading in the best way. I wasn't rushed or slowed down, it was just perfect for me to be able to take it all in.

Subject: This was a subject that both fascinated and enraged me. Equality between the sexes and the races. A subject that will probably never be explored enough and will never stop being interesting and infuriating to me. I was incensed at reading how Eliza was treated because she was a woman, at how often she had to fight for what she knew was right. Men constantly dismissed her ideas and suggestions even though she had done copious research and consulted with experts. I was angry at all these things and loved Eliza even more every time she took the beatings and kept going.

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Profile Image for Jill McGill.
223 reviews180 followers
October 4, 2017
An absolutely breathtaking and touching novel that I couldn't put down! Highly recommend!
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