My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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.
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.