Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Book Review: THANDI'S LOVE

Title: Tomorrow Thandi's Love
Author: Angel Strong
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Pages: 285
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐

Set in Newport, South Carolina, in 1838, Tom Lexington is a benevolent plantation owner who treats his slaves with dignity and respect. After years of dry seasons, he experiences a bountiful harvest and his Aunt Lacy sends him wagonloads of her own slaves to help. 

His own childhood friends, siblings Isaac and Thandi, also come along and Tom arranges for them to stay in his mansion. His wife, Anna, does not approve of kindness towards negroes, setting the stage for a confrontation. It doesn’t help that Thandi is strikingly beautiful.

Tom’s marriage with Anna is in trouble and he and Thandi give in to their impulses. As Anna’s grievances intensify, she calls her father, lawyer Daniel Stafford, to drive Thandi away and restore peace in her marriage. But Daniel is a ruthless man who has played some part in driving Tom’s father to suicide, and now holds a great stake in Tom’s wealth. He has evil designs on Thandi and plans to make her his personal slave.

Victor Richmond, a friend of Daniel’s and a rich landowner, offers to buy Thandi. Will this be a better situation for Thandi or worse?

And then Aunt Lacy makes a terrible revelation about Thandi, a truth that could forever tear Tom and Thandi apart. Will their love survive the obstacles in their path?

The story is written in the third person omniscient past tense point of view.

As a story about a love affair between a married white man and a mulatto slave girl, I thought it had a lot of potential. But somehow that potential wasn’t really fulfilled. I didn’t get a sense of the dangers awaiting Thandi. 

On the whole, she lived rather a charmed life, and the horror stories lived by slaves of that time didn’t seem to touch her. We are told that both Tom and Thandi are risking much to be with each other. But we don’t see them having to pay for the consequences of their actions.

There are a few very detailed and rather graphic descriptions of love making, and one description of a rape scene, which I found gratuitous and unnecessary.

I also found one mistake that seems to have skipped past the author’s eye. Thandi sees a portrait of a mulatto woman who Victor identifies as Elena, his dead wife. A few paragraphs later, Thandi thinks, “In a strange way, he resembled his mother. The two shared the same complexion, large brown eyes.”

Overall, the book was a simple love story. The author has drawn the characters well. We understand the predicament of Tom and Thandi and feel their helplessness. Even the minor characters like Ben, Tom’s overseer, and Esther, his housekeeper, are drawn well, imbued with feeling and kindness.

(I received an ARC from NetGalley).

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