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Yellow Wife

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  35,204 ratings  ·  4,663 reviews
In the tradition of Wench and Twelve Years a Slave, this harrowing story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Brown was promised her freedom on her eighteenth birthday. But when her birthday finally comes around, instead of the idyllic life
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by Simon Schuster
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Ashlee To me it was. I read over half of the book in one day. The writing style kept my attention.
B Stokes I also questioned some of the items she made reference to in this book. She also used expressions and wordings that I associated with more modern time…moreI also questioned some of the items she made reference to in this book. She also used expressions and wordings that I associated with more modern times. (less)

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Average rating 4.40  · 
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 ·  35,204 ratings  ·  4,663 reviews

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Whew this isn't an easy read, but it's a necessary read. I don't think I really even read the summary of this book before diving in and part of me wished I would have. It didn't take away from the importance of the novel, but this is one that you need to be mentally prepared for before diving in. CW: graphic depictions of slavery, death of a child (twice), repeated rape, mental/emotional/physical abuse, torturing of slaves (particularly in whippings), graphic depictions of imprisonment.

Yellow Wi
This is a Historical Fiction book. This book takes place in the South (Virginia, but some of the places talked about in the book is in North Carolina) during the time people had slaves. We follow young female slave called Pheby Delores Brown. I have to say this book was hard to read at times, but I really think everyone should read this book. It is a part of the Sothern past, and we cannot forget it. I feel the characters came to live in this book. I think this is the first book that was told in ...more
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yellow Wife by Sedequa Johnson is a 2021 37 ink publication.

Harrowing, emotional, incredible historical saga!

Pheby, on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday, a time when her white father, Jacob, had promised to free her, her fortune reversed, and she found herself being groomed to become the mistress of a slave trader, a cruel man, named Rubin Lapier.

Rubin presented Pheby as his ‘wife’, their children legitimized by his acknowledgement of them. Yet, Pheby is not free, she is at the mercy of Rub
Terrie  Robinson
"Yellow Wife" by Sadeqa Johnson is beautifully written African American Historical Fiction!

Pheby Delores Brown is born a slave on the Bell Plantations in Charles City, Virginia. Her mother the plantation's medicine woman, her father the plantation owner, Master Jacob.

Master Jacob and his sister, Miss Sally favors Pheby for her light skin and natural beauty. Miss Sally teaches her to read, play the piano and spends her days with Pheby. Master Jacob protects Pheby and promises her freedom at 18
Kezia Duah
Jun 04, 2022 rated it really liked it
“My bruises might not look like yours, but they are there.”

A heartbreaking one! But still constantly leaves you with this feeling of hope since the characters constantly exhibited this.

Johnson definitely does not hold back on the horrors that Phoebe experienced and witnessed. We are there with her through all this, and this was in first pov so you know it immediately feels really personal. Her character grows both physically and mentally throughout the book, and none of it felt rushed. The evolu
This story is inspired by the story of Mary Lumpkin and Lumpkin’s jail in Richmond, Virginia.

Bell Plantation, Charles City, Virginia, 1850. Pheby Delores Brown, after losing her mother and after broken promise of freedom, she is being sold to traders. At an auction, she is “rescued by gentleman’s kindness.” Rubin Lapier is the owner of the jail, where Pheby spent the night before the auction. And now is one of the workers at the jail sewing, mostly mending clothing. Her constant companion is “th
Misty Marie Harms
I love historical fiction, but I usually stay away from this time period. I end up crying all the way through it and mad at the ignorance. So needless to say, yes, I cried over these pages. A mother's love is endless. It will go through the depths of hell to provide safety for our children. For even a sliver of hope for it. Pheby did what she had to survive. To make sure her children survived. I can't wrap my mind around on how it would be in her position. I wouldn't disrespect her by pretending ...more
Margaret M - semi hiatus  (With lots of catching up to do)
Heart-breaking, upsetting and a very moving fictional story that is interwoven with real historical events and real places, such as the Devil’s Acre. What makes this story even more poignant is the knowledge that the brutality and slavery did happen. Even the Plantations, a more civilised existence were still sites of oppression, and it brings to mind the horrors of slavery and the landowners who made it possible.

The main protagonist is Pheby Delores Brown, a child of mixed race who lives on th
Jul 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Note: I received a free copy of this book, in exchange here is my honest review.

Uhhhhhhh….. my heart aches!! 💔 This was such a powerful and heart wrenching read. Pheby was an amazingly strong willed and determined character. ❤️ But the message of motherhood and the utter nature of giving oneself over completely, to ensure your own child’s safety, is so intense and true. 🥰 This was a difficult and amazing read!

Thank you @goodreads @sadeqasays and @simonandschuster #goodreadsgiveaway
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4+ stars!

A powerful, well-written, intriguing and harrowing story that sheds light on one of the worst times in our history - slavery. Slaves are at the centre of this story set in the 1850’s - on a plantation and in a prison setting. The way the slaves are treated is horrific, devastating and sickening. This book provides some insight on what it took for the slaves to survive both physically and mentally.

I was fascinated to see the way in which the slaves created a sense of family and belonging
Jan 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
The Yellow Wife is an extremely well done historical fiction, but it’s also incredibly sad. I feel like my timing to listen to this is perfect. Just this week, the Florida Senate passed a bill to make it illegal to make white people feel “uncomfortable”. This book should be required reading as to why we should be uncomfortable when we remember the past. While it is fiction, it’s based on a real prison and real people. The story is graphic in its details of the evils played out against the slaves ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Dealing with the same Hell.

Just different devils.....

Sadeqa Johnson presents a solid, walking-over-broken-glass historical fiction novel centered on plantation life in Charles City, Virginia. To her well focused credit, Johnson took a nugget of an idea while walking the Richmond Slave Trail with her family and transformed it into an outstanding novel. There was indeed a jailer who lived on a half acre of land overseeing a prison where slaves were bought and sold. He lived with his mulatto wife a
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written historical fiction set mostly in Virginia 1850. This one touches on so many raw emotions ....love, hate, resentment, fright, loss, family whether it be conventional or not. Well researched and fast moving storyline that tells such a deep emotional story of the slaves and being sold, separated from everything they ever knew and how loved ones are lost due to nobody simply caring. Pheby's story is one that will stay with you for a long time. If you liked the Kitchen House thi ...more
Kay ☄. *. ⋆ catching up mode
4.5 ⭐

A page-turner!

Yellow Wife is 1850s historical fiction that flows like a thriller. We follow Pheby's journey from Bell plantation where she was born to a different life at one of the largest and most notorious slave holding facilities in Virginia.

There's so much tragedy in this book, but what kept me glued were the characters. The author did not hold back on how the enslaved were punished.

In the author's note, Pheby's character was inspired by Mary Lumpkin. The jail in the story is of Rob
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
Sep 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a deeply affecting book. It was this month's book club choice, and there's so much depth here if the reader looks beneath the surface.

It is the story of Pheby Delores Brown, born to an enslaved Black mother and white father, Jacob, the master of the plantation. She had some advantages at an early age, Jacob's sister taught her to read, write, and play the piano. After the sister died, Jacob took a wife who greatly disliked Pheby and her mother. Jacob had always promised Pheby her freedom
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
It's so very hard to think that people in our past sold other people into slavery. Slavery ranks up there as a heinous awful crime against humanity and in the story of Yellow Wife, we do once again come to see, relive, and understand what happened those years ago to so many.

Pheby Delores Brown, a young mulatto girl is beautiful and she has been promised her freedom which she longs for. However, fate intervenes, as Pheby's mother and her plantation wealthy father, Master Jacob, take a path that l
Mar 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson was one of the best books about slavery and the South that I have read in a long time. Sadeqa Johnson wrote about an aspect of slavery that I had no knowledge about before reading her well written, riveting, harrowing and heartbreaking novel, Yellow Wife. It was hard to pull myself away from this book. It was fast paced and thought provoking. Some parts were hard to listen to. Sadeqa Johnson’s vivid and detailed descriptions of the cruelties many slaves were meant t ...more
Jun 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
5 🌟’s

This book is beyond amazing regarding the research and the incredible way Johnson has articulated writing Yellow Wife. It has taken me several days to process what I just finished reading. I absolutely can not imagine the incredible cruelty and heartbreaking lives these people were forced to endure. We follow the life of Pheby Brown born a slave, the main character from her late teens, having children and through adulthood. I had to stop reading many times to re
No wonder the library waiting lists are so long. The Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson was better than I could have imagined. Despite reading numerous rave reviews, I did not expect to be so completely drawn into this beautifully written and mesmerizing story centering around slavery. Even though this is a fictional tale, it sounds like many of the non-fiction books I have read and/or lectures I heard regarding what life was like for Black people during this time period. This book centers around the ...more
Cheryl James
Mar 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have read many books about slavery. The stories are always hard to imagine how anyone white or black could disrespect, humiliate and literally beat a whole human race for the sake of their own wealth and pleasure. As an African American these stories are part of my heritage and i embrace the fact of how far we have come as a Black race.

Kudos to the author for doing the research and putting together a story near and dear to my heart. Everything about this story was believable, the characters w
Natalie  ~ The Biblioholic
I'm finding it impossible to stop thinking about this book! Pheby's story has had a firm grip on my heart from its opening lines and it seems to have no intention of letting me go.

At seventeen, she was unprepared for what life had in store for her. Born a slave, she was raised to never believe herself to be one and by comparison, she was shown to be several steps above. When tragedy strikes, everything she knew, every bit of safety she ever felt, was suddenly ripped away and Pheby learned quick
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson is the engrossing story of a mulatto slave named Pheby Delores Brown. Beginning in 1850 and going through 1857, Pheby bravely endures her life as a slave. Pheby’s mother was the plantation medicine woman who was impregnated by the owner, Master Jacob. At the beginning of her life, Pheby was pampered by Master Jacob’s sister, Miss Sally. Pheby, who had been promised her freedom at the age of 18, was educated and taught to play the piano. After Miss Sally dies, Master ...more
Jun 28, 2022 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

A heart-breaking and thought provoking novel and I enjoyed the angle the author took in her telling of this story.
This is my first novel by Sadeqa Johnson and it didn't disappoint. Its a well written, engaging, thought provoking and an emotional read.

Born on a plantation in Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the
Jun 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Yellow Wife is the emotional and harrowing journey of Pheby Delores Brown, born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia. She was promised freedom when she was 18 years old. Her mother dies tragically in an ancient. Pheby is sold to slave traders on the day of her mother’s funeral.

This book was inspired by the story of Mary Lumpkin and Lumpkins jail in Richmond Virginia, known as Devil’s Half Acre.

After days of traveling, Pheby finds herself at Devil’s Half Acre jail. Conditions are deplorable.
Karren  Sandercock
Pheby Delores Brown lives with her mama in the slave quarters at Bell Plantation she’s an herb woman and spins cotton. Master Jacob promised Pheby her freedom on her eighteenth birthday, when he’s killed and his spiteful wife Missus Delphina sends her away with slave traders. Her mama also died from the wounds she sustained in the carriage accident that killed Master Jacob and she’s in a state of shock! The journey from the plantation to the slave jail at Devil’s Half-Acre is horrendous, when it ...more
Sep 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I can’t believe I waited so long to read The Yellow Wife and no review I write will do the story justice, but here goes …

Pheby Brown is an enslaved young woman on a plantation in Virginia. She is promised freedom on her 18th birthday but things don’t go as planned. She is forced to become a mistress to a jail owner, whose property is known as The Devil’s Half Acre. The living conditions there are far different from what Pheby is used to and she has to give everything in an attempt to fight for
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that will literally stay with you forever. It was absolutely heartbreaking, extremely graphic and made me feel sick to my stomach, but I could not put it down. My heart was pounding throughout this entire book.

It is so hard to believe that this is a real part of our history. The brutal punishments that were inflicted on human beings just blows my mind. How was this endured? How could someone do these things? I can't even comprehend it. It was very hard to read but I b
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies
My first 5 star read of 2021! Yellow Wife is beautifully written, absolutely heartbreaking and will stay with me for a very long time.

I was completely captivated by the first page and couldn't put this book down. Pheby Delores Brown, such a strong willed and truly incredible woman. The life she was promised on her 18th birthday, being freed from slavery was anything but now her life played out. When thrown into horrible circumstances she managed to stay strong and adapt to her environment. Thro
Lori (on semi hiatus during summer)
This is the story of Pheby, a mullato slave that did what she had to do to survive. She is brave, wise and devoted to her children. This was hard to read at times due to the harsh reality of what slaves went through during that time in history. Some of this was based on true events.It was heartbreaking and hard to read at times yet such a powerful story.This story will stay with me for a long time.
Mar 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
Author Sadeqa Johnson perfectly captures the fear, hopelessness, and cruelty that slaves endured in the American south of the 1800’s. Based on the life of a real “yellow wife”, this well written and well researched novel provides a visceral sense of place. Parts of this book are difficult to read, but they are taken from accounts of actual events that routinely occurred in slave holding prisons in Richmond, Virginia.

This is an unforgettable story of determination and endurance that is so hard t
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Sadeqa Johnson is the Globe and Mail best-selling author of Yellow Wife, And Then There Was Me, Second House From the Corner and Love in a Carry-on Bag. Her accolades include being the recipient of the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Award and the USA Best Book Award for best fiction. She is a Kimbilo Fellow. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, ...more

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