Happy Monday! Yeah, who am I kidding. It's Monday. Let's just try to get through it.
Dirty Rice by Dorothy K. Morris is a historical novel set in the early 18th Century in the colony of South Carolina. The author is currently on tour to promote this novel, which is a prequel to her Mockingbird Hill Series.
BLURB: DIRTY RICE, a novel set in the early 18th Century in the Low-Country of the early South Carolina Colony, tells of love, passion, adventure and cruelty with totally believable characters. It is the first prequel to the four books of the Mockingbird Hill Series. The early 18th Century saw vast expansion into the New World from England, the European Continent and from Africa, and the establishment of rice plantations in the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Set against this background DIRTY RICE sweeps us away to a bygone era of adventure, romance and brutal reality. This is the story of African rice and African people, their knowledge, expertise and their forced labor that made the Carolina Colony the wealthiest colony in colonial America. It takes us from the plush parlors of aristocratic English absentee land owners, who set policy in the Colony to maximize profit, to the swampy shores of Carolina amid the mud and muck of rice fields, where people kidnapped from West Africa because of their knowledge and expertise in the growing of rice, were forced to work to fill the coffers of the landowners with wealth. It is a story of exploitation by some and compassion from others. In this, as in her four previous novels, Morris' emphasis is on the people who lived and were forced to cope with what life sent their way.
COVER: Definitely appropriate. It speaks to the setting and the rice crops that meant wealth for the land owners. The dark color seems to speak to the "dirty" rice. I would have preferred to see both pictures combined somehow instead of them being separate images marked off by the title.
FIRST CHAPTER: The chapter opens with a brief history of the collision between the lands known as the West Coast of Africa and the East Coast of North America starting one billion years ago to form the Appalachian Mountains. Then five hundred years ago it is said that greed and ego led to the kidnapping and sale of Africans who were expert rice growers.
At the beginning of this second event in 1726, Reginald Upton oversees Greenville Plantation, Charles Town Colony, an enterprise of The Colonial Shipping, Land and Commerce Company, which is headquartered in London, England. Pressure to grow rice from a terrain of swamps, pocosins, saw grass, and earth thick with roots, leads Upton to write a letter explaining the situation, the competition, and the hardships to Sir Joseph Talleigh, the finance officer of the company.
On an island off the west coast of Africa, Fulani and Edraim work in the rice fields. The two young women wander into the marsh without lookouts to protect them. They soon wish they had heeded the warning of Edraim's mother never to do so.
KEEP READING: Yes. Though I typically prefer a novel that drops right into the thick of things, in this instance, I feel the brief background of what has transpired before Upton appears on the scene is helpful and needed. Morris was wise not to introduce too many characters at the beginning. Mainly its Upton in America and Fulani and Edraim in Africa. There are mentions of others, such as Sir Joseph Talleigh or Edraim's mother, but we don't meet them. Because I read the Foreword plus the opening history, if there were a plethora of characters, I would have felt lost right away. The author also provides some wonderful descriptions of the areas in which the novel is set, so the reader truly feels like she is right alongside the characters as the story unfolds.
Paperback: 500 pages
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing (November 9, 2012)
I received a free PDF version of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.