Might I just apologise to the author of this book first. No, no it isn’t the usual sheesh it took me a long arse time to get to this book and I am so sorry. Nope. I would like to apologise for underestimating her skills and my ability to enjoy anything with the word “historical” attached to it. Here’s the deal, right? I read a historical novel and pick it apart from beginning to end finding every fault I can. I can’t seem to help it. Guess what? S.K. Nicholls knocked this one out of the park. Bloody hell, woman, where have you been hiding? Go write me another book!
Also, you can find her excellent blog by going here: My Brand of Genius
And now onto some words from our sponsor. Me, and a brief description from Goodreads as well.
Set in the Deep South during a period of civil unrest, Red Clay and Roses is a fictional account of a true story. The discovery of an old ledger opens a window into life in a time when women were supposed to keep quiet and serve, abortion was illegal, adoption difficult, and racism rampant.
Mystery, rape, murder, drama, and forbidden love meld as the origin of the ledger unfolds. Sybil reveals that she was an unconventional, independent, high spirited young white woman in the 1950s-60s in a world that belonged to the white man.
Sybil defies the norm to open her own business. She becomes the love interest of Nathan, an African-American man, in a summer romance that leaves her mournful. Nathan is a medical student whose father is employed as handyman to The Good Doctor. Nathan’s sister is missing. He cannot know why.
Nathan becomes directly involved in the Civil Rights Movement and Sybil is torn between living the mundane life of her peers or a life that involves fastening herself to a taboo relationship. The seeds of prejudice have been sown by a society that seethed with bigotry.
My thoughts on this novel:
So, I began reading this book just as a sample of what the author was discussing on her blog and ended up not being able to put it down until I finished it. This is the sign of an excellent book.
What did I like about it, you may ask, or you may not, but I will tell you regardless. There is so much to like. First of all, this book is based on reality and although it is a harsh reality, this is beautifully written and researched. The amount of information the author uncovered during her research and how she molded it into this story sets Red Clay and Roses apart from many other historical books I have read. I thoroughly enjoyed that this book was different from what I have come to expect from the genre. Reading this book is like visiting the memories of someone you love and seeing the world through their unique perspective, without leaving the comfort of your home.
There were no obvious errors in this book in regards to time periods or appropriate language, which kept me enjoying the story without distraction. I was also appreciative of the author’s ability to affect a southern drawl and make it sound believable in text. That can be a difficult thing to do without it sounding silly or contrived.
S.K. Nicholls has a way of making you feel what her characters are feeling. This book is overflowing with tension, civil unrest and keeps you reading even when you would have given up on lesser books. One of my favourite things about this story, is the way the characters communicate their desires to the reader. There is not an overabundance of information given through dialogue. You are able to get to know the individual personalities of the characters and see how they react–emotionally and physically to the things they are faced with. I do not see this often enough in the books I read.
Although this book does deal with very serious subject matter and is an intensely thoughtful book, it is not depressing and gives you the opportunity to become so involved in the story that you nearly forget everything else. There were times during reading this where I wanted to shout, times where I wanted to laugh and hug a character and times where I had tears fill my eyes.
If you have not read this book yet, it is my firm opinion that you are missing out on something that you will likely never forget. Pick up a copy soon, and see for yourself.