5 stars rounded up Yellow Crocus was a wonderful surprise of gifted storytelling by Laila Ibrahim Richly detailed with lush, living, characters, I was immersed in the culture and times of mid 1800s Virginia An interesting time to be sure, but horrific in its enslavement of African Americans Born into slavery, Mattie, twenty years old, is a field hand, until the birth of her son, Samuel Then, because Mrs Wainwright has just had a baby girl, Mattie is taken from her own child to be a wet nurse to the little white baby girl, Elisabeth Although Mattie is heartbroken at not being able to be with her own child, she develops a bond with baby Lisbeth Ibrahim s attention to the details of childbirth and nursing children is enhanced by her experience as a birth doula as she states on her GR s author page Ibrahim s story is about the bond that grows between this little white baby and her enslaved nurse it feels tender and true As an RN who worked in a newborn nursery for over twenty years, I attended many deliveries, so I appreciated the warmth and attention Ibrahim brought to this part of the story My favorite part of my duties as a nursery nurse was after the hubbub of the delivery had died down and everyone had left except the parents, and I helped the infant attach to his her mother s breast for the first time I could almost always feel it the bond of attachment taking shape and growing This story will follow Lisbeth through her growing up years and her training as a genteel Southern lady She is taught that women mind the home and that men are in charge and not to interfere with the decisions a man makes The man is in charge of the slaves and the woman has little to no input Mother tells her that the slaves are like children and that the system is for their own protection Lisbeth s love for Mattie, her nurse, causes her to question the way things are When something happens that rocks Lisbeth s world, which point of view will predict her future That of her parents, or that of her experience in life That of her deepest bond Bahni Turpin narrates this audiobook, and she is magnificent I was spellbound by her voice An actress, born in Pontiac, Michigan, I was astonished by her intonation of a rich southern accent and the way she differentiates the characters by voice Turpin enveloped me in the mellifluous atmosphere of southern life the hard places of that life alive and aware within the marvelous richness of her silky voice Each year, Mattie and Lisbeth would search for the first sign of spring, a Yellow Crocus They would celebrate by having a picnic Celebrating new life, new beginnings, and the love that holds everything together, Laila Ibrahim, has created a wonderful story that I m sure I will listen to again There s a treasure trove inside, not locked away, a story of profound and deep love Come, and read it.
Yellow Crocusreceived such overwhelmingly good reviews on Goodreads, and I like historical fiction, especially tales set in early America For example, I loved The Kitchen House , which also dealt with pre Civil War slavery So I was really looking forward to reading this book My expansive local library doesn t have it, so I put in an inter library loan request and received the book from a library in Oklahoma All good so far Then I started reading And, boy, was I disappointed What could have been a powerful story was overly tidy and simplified Sometimes the book skipped details that could have been important such as Elizabeth s mother s feelings for her daughter and how these feelings helped shape the girl, or how Elizabeth s father s beliefs influenced his treatment of slaves and other times it bogged down in details that added nothing Apart from Mattie and Elizabeth, the characters were not adequately developed, and their motivations were unclear The dialogue was inconsistent and sometimes pointless Next year I would like to have crocus blooming in our yard That would be lovely, Matthew replied, smiling at his wife Though the bulbs are quite expensive It is a luxury we can afford, he assured her Thank you, Matthew, Lisbeth smiled back Can you believe we have lived here for nearly a year It has passed quickly And, while the author certainly doesn t paint slavery in a favorable light, the fairy tale ending wasn t believable A really talented editor might have been able to salvage this book, refining the marginal writing and helping Yellow Crocus to become all it had the potential to be.
This was a wonderfully written book This book follows two characters, Mattie and Lisbeth, and is set in the mid 1800 s in Virginia Mattie is a slave woman for Lisbeth s family and is called in to be a wet nurse to young Elizabeth Lisbeth Forced to leave her own son just a few months old, Mattie is moved into the house and raises the young girl, almost as her own, for several yearsThe first half of the book we gets the first several years from Mattie, but as the years wear on, it starts to shift to Lisbeth s We get to see her turmoil as Mattie longs to be with her son and family but has also grown close to her young charge All seems as ideal as it can be for a slave family for the first several yours but as Mattie s son grows older, problems arise.
We switch to Lisbeth as she begins o be taught about society, and her place in it And the place of slaves, men, etc When Mattie is no longer by her side she is forced to make her own decisions for good or bad But what is that in the 1850 s How do you cope being divided by love from family I greatly appreciated the honesty the author brought forth So many are afraid to speak or right the truth of how things were While this books surely tones it down, it does note paint it pretty either And the further into the book, the darker some of the subjects get I hate when authors over sugar coat the past All men were NOT seen as equal then and women were not to men This portrays things relatively accurate My feelings toward the characters were mild but consistantly there A light empathy.
This book hits some deep subjects For those who get angry at the idea of slavery or past prejudice, do not read this This refers to slaves as they were called in those days This is not for the young readers, there is a rape scene,and whipping in this For the mature reader this is a wonderful book for both history and the bonds of love, family, loyalty and friendship I received this book from Flaming Chalice Press in exchange for a fair and honest review So special thanks to them No money or other exchanges involved I want to wrap my arms and legs around this book and hang onto it forever With a depth and subtlety I m sure I didn t even fully grasp during this first read, Yellow Crocus captured my attention and my emotions on every single page I am hungry to pick it up and start all over again Beautiful, warm, hopeful, and inspiring, this story unfolded so seamlessly I felt like I was living it To finish the last page left me renewed and deeply satisfied This is the kind of book that makes me glad to be a reader and studier of the richness of life as it is told in stories This book is a must read for any list.
What could have been a beautiful story but turned into just a show of sugary affection because the author didn t capture the relationship between master and the servant and the effect of slavery on it Yellow Crocus explores the relationship of Elizabeth, the white master, and Mattie, the black servant When Elizabeth was born, she was handed to Mattie It was Mattie s job to see the needs of child, feeding and bathing etc As the child grew up, the bond between these two also got stronger Elizabeth s parents sell Mattie s son to a neighboring plantation The child could not survive there and escapes, never to be found again Mattie was questioned and beaten, and soon was relieved from the duties as Elizabeth s nanny She too soon fled to Ohio to be with her son and her husband And years later, fate brought both these women together.
This story is so simple With such high ratings I expected so much from this considering the subject matter of the story While reading the book I never felt the sufferings of poor slaves Mattie was quite liked in the white household and well taken care of She can t blame her masters for mistreating her or beating her Had she been working in fields, perhaps it would have been a different story Escaping was her own decision As for Elizabeth, she was deeply attached to Mattie but she soon forgot about her once she started going to classes which groomed her in how to be a perfect lady and dance practices Soon the only motive of her life was to be married off to a rich heir and be an heiress She seemed so flimsy One minute she wanted to be a heiress, the next she just ran away from everything It never got well with me Both characters had no emotion that touched me They felt flat and one dimensional to me Moreover, the story didn t do justice to the slavery in 1800s for most part, it seemed like they were living like one big happy family And perhaps that s what author wanted to show in this story but it didn t go well for me When I think of slavery, I think of brutality, gore, selfishness, cruelty, helplessness, dejection, anger, but I didn t get any of that here.
It just didn t work for me.
It s so interesting to me sometimes how my brain works I ve seen this book on Goodreads for a while now, and yet I never gave it any thought at all, never showed even the slightest spark of interest in looking to see what it was about because of the cover To me, that just about screams Christian Romance Ick But then I saw the Kindle edition cover when browsing the Kindle Unlimited options, and THAT one spoke to me and said that this book might be one that could interest me So I picked it up and read it Well, to be fair, I half listened to it because KU also includes audiobooks and half read it I finished it in just a few hours, during a drive to my NJ Bookclub and back, and then at home after, and though it was a quick read I m just not sure what I really thought about it In a lot of ways, this was very similar to The Help This was an impression that was very much helped along by the audio, which was read by Bahni Turpin who read both books I happened to really enjoy The Help but for some reason, this book just felt pretty unrealistic to me in a few key ways And, you know, if I was fair, I would apply some of these same complaints to The Help but life isn t fair, and neither am I See here s the thing, I know that The Help had flaws, but I enjoyed the story and the characters and the atmosphere and the feel of the story so much that I was able to just lose myself in the book and ignore them And for me, that doesn t happen as often as I would like it to I have this habit of not being able to turn off my inner critic sometimes OK lots of the time I m the girl who will call out the illogical physics during a ghost fight on top of a moving vehicle that is in a book about trying to kill God during near death experiences Just saying ANYWAY so, when I can just enjoy a book and I DON T get caught up in all the flaws and stuff that take me out of the moment, that makes me happy This book tried too hard to make me happy, and it ruined everything OK, maybe not everything I m still giving it 3 stars, but it s a generous three Maybe 2 1 2 rounded up OK probably 2 You see, as much as I like being happy from the I m loving this book and I m lost in the story and nothing else matters feels I m not a happy ending fan Sure, I might secretly hope for one but if it s too contrived in order to have one, then I will resent it And that s the main problem that I had with this book It was just too contrived There will be spoilers You ve been warned.
We have Mattie, our slave new mother who was pulled away from her 3 month old son in order to nurse newborn Elizabeth Excuse me, Miss Elizabeth Mattie is heartbroken that she has to be away from her baby, but she comes to love Lisbeth, and the two form a bond over many years Mattie suffers being away from her family and home, but Lisbeth, who of course is young and doesn t know any better than what her parents teach her, thinks that Mattie should be happy because her life is easier than it was as a field hand She s just ignorant, which is understandable Anyway Years later, Mattie s son is sold to a nearby family, and he runs away with his father who was on another nearby plantation Mattie is questioned about it, by which I mean that they whip her in the hopes that she would spill their whereabouts She doesn t, but she shortly finds out that she is pregnant and at that point she decides that she will run too when she can She decides to run a few months after her daughter is born So up until this point, the point of Mattie s run, I was digging the story After this point, it started to just go south for me Semi pun intended You see, it s SUPPOSED to seem as though it was a really harrowing and dangerous escape, but it wasn t It was too easy and not well enough explained why We re to understand that she was helped along by the Underground Railroad But I wanted details as to how it was planned and such It really just seemed like a series of convenient escapes At one point she s spotted, and, with no explanation at all, suddenly had made herself sick with poisonous plants that she d swallowed at some point in preparation for being stopped which she didn t know would happen I dunno She got out of that by puking all over the place though, so mission accomplished It was all kind of like that We re supposed to interpret this as being a kind of luck slash resourceful slash determination thing, but it just seemed too contrived for me It was too quick, too easy So, let s hop back over to Lisbeth, because for a while Mattie goes out of our story once she makes her destination Lisbeth is now being groomed to be a Proper Southern Wife, blah blah blah She goes along with everything because making a good match with a wealthy dude is much important than happiness Nevermind that the one decent guy she knows is pretty much mocked for being almost an abolitionist Well, mere days before her wedding, she spots future hubby raping a young slave girl She freaks out because, mind you, she s innocent and had no idea such a thing occurred , and future hubby was like Don t sweat it, once we re hitched I won t stick it to anyone but you Mother and Daddy basically tell her to get over it, but she can t She s haunted by the frightened eyes of the girl being raped So, knowing that her life in the area is over if she breaks her engagement, she proposes to Mr Almost An Abolitionist and asks him to take her with him when he moves conveniently away They do this, she breaks off her previous engagement, everyone flips their shit, and then they moveTo the exact town where Mattie ended up Neither one of them knew that, of course We re just supposed to believe that it was purely a coincidence that in ALL of the possible Northern locations they each could have chosen, they each chose the same one Like fate or something And then of course when Lisbeth s pregnancy starts getting complicated, they bring in a midwife to assist, and you ll NEVER guess who it is Never in a million bajillion trillion years It was MATTIE Look, I get that people want happy endings to slavery stories They want the slaves to be freed, and for white people to have learned the error of their racist, shitty ways, and for there to be a happy ever after But that s not really how it was It wasn t a romanticized forced but fateful bond between a slave and her charge It was just fucking slavery It s not sweet, no matter how much sugar you pile onto the page There were bits that I liked, and as I said, I really enjoyed the first half But the second half just felt so contrived to accomplish that happy ever after, that growth from Lisbeth, where she realized that slaves REALLY are people, too I didn t feel like these characters were REAL they were just vehicles for the plot and the lesson And that spoiled the whole thing for me.
Mattie s son Samuel was just three months old when Mattie became wet nurse to Elizabeth, brand new daughter at the big house It was the 1800s and slavery was part of life Mattie and her family knew no other way she had last seen her mother when she d been sold her sister Rebecca, husband Emmanuel, son Samuel and Poppy were her family.
As Lisbeth grew, her love and devotion to Mattie strengthened She would visit Mattie s family at the slave s quarters each week, becoming close to them all But Lisbeth s parents only tolerated her affection to Mattie and it wasn t long before circumstances changed and the harshness of life as a slave showed its true form Freedom seemed a long way off Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim is an exceptional read The Yellow Crocus a little flower would show its head at the beginning of spring It became a symbol of hope to the families Mattie is a wonderful character, as is Lisbeth and I found myself cheering them on while being disgusted at the prejudices and automatic ownership that threaded through the book I have no hesitation in recommending this debut novel highly.
Yellow Crocus a novel by Laila Ibrahim I am so glad I read this Novel as the saying goes Good goods come in small parcels Yellow Crocus is a flower that blooms in the most adverse conditions What a great name for this Novel, makes you appreciate the thought the author put into this book.
This is a short novel and as I have been having a bad streak with books lately this was exactly the sort of book I had been searching for I found the novel Yellow Crocus a very enjoyable book, no tricks or fireworks just a good story with a few historical facts to keep me interested I liked the simplicity of this novel, I believe it is the author s first book and I really look forward to future books I sensed the author is passionate about her subject and she gets to the point and no waffling.
This book follows the relationship between an enslaved black women and a little white girl she is forced to care for Mattie is taken from her baby son and must leave him in the care of others, and forced to become a wet nurse to Elizabeth who is the Master s first born daughter at the big house Yellow Crocus is story about love, relationships and slavery and how in history mankind are guilty of so much pain and suffering of, and it s through books like this one we are reminded of these times and we do need reminding how cruel life has been in the past.
I really grew very quickly to love the characters in this novel they are well developed and the story is well constructed.
The ending of the Novel I did feel was a little contrived but did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.
If you liked the The Kitchen House you will enjoy this Book.
I can t begin to explain how heartbreaking this story was for probably than half of this book I had a knot in my stomach and felt like I couldn t breathe at times It was gut wrenching and not surprisingly so but that didn t make it any easier Mattie s heart was broken as she was separated from her mother at eight, when her mother was sold Now, Mattie at 19 is forced to leave her 3 month old son and move to her master s house to be wet nurse and care giver for his newborn baby girl Elizabeth She can see her son Samuel once a week and only allowed to watch him through a window.
In spite of this mother s heartache, Mattie not only gives Lisbeth her milk but she gives her genuine love and becomes for Lisbeth a guiding force that shapes the strong woman that Lisbeth becomes.
This is a short book and I m not willing to tell of the plot because you really should find out for yourself what a fine piece of writing this is.
In spite of the atrocities, this small book is also full of the hope that the Yellow Crocus in early spring represents Highly recommended.
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley.
Moments After Lisbeth Is Born, She S Taken From Her Mother And Handed Over To An Enslaved Wet Nurse, Mattie, A Young Mother Separated From Her Own Infant Son In Order To Care For Her Tiny Charge Thus Begins An Intense Relationship That Will Shape Both Of Their Lives For Decades To Come Though Lisbeth Leads A Life Of Privilege, She Finds Nothing But Loneliness In The Company Of Her Overwhelmed Mother And Her Distant, Slave Owning Father As She Grows Older, Mattie Becomes Like Family To Lisbeth Than Her Own Kin And The Girl S Visits To The Slaves Quarters And Their Lively And Loving Community Bring Them Closer Together Than Ever But Can Two Women In Such Disparate Circumstances Form A Bond Like Theirs Without Consequence This Deeply Moving Tale Of Unlikely Love Traces The Journey Of These Very Different Women As Each Searches For Freedom And Dignity