The Unknown Beloved by Amy Harmon

"Historical Fiction" genre card with glasses and book photo
"Mystery" Genre card with dark woods and light in the distance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am thoroughly convinced that Amy Harmon can write anything. She is an author that can jump from genre to genre with such ease and agility, and I am HERE for it every time!

In The Unknown Beloved, we are taken to the 1930’s for a murder mystery. I didn’t realize this until over halfway through the book, but the serial killer, and many of the characters were real people, and that made me love this book even more! Dani is a fictional character, but she is a fantastic MC, and as Harmon hinted at in the author’s note, I agree…more stories of her and Mike would be awesome!

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Scarlet Carnation by Laila Ibrahim

"Historical Fiction" genre card with glasses and book photo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book is a continuation of a family saga series that I just absolutely love! It starts with Yellow Crocus, set in the 1800s and follows the life of two women, Lisbeth, a white plantation daughter, and Mattie, a slave and wet nurse. Each book after that one continues to follow those women and their descendants. I would absolutely recommend that you start at the beginning of this series, but I think you could read this as a stand-alone if you really wanted to.

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Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Thoughts:

What I Loved: I stumbled across this book as I was perusing Amazon’s Kindle library. The synopsis grabbed me and I was not disappointed! The relationship between the two main characters, Lisbeth and Mattie was so beautiful. I loved being able to watch their relationship develop from Lisbeth’s birth. While the story covers a terrible part of American history, the story of these two people was beautiful.

How I Felt:

I am always intrigued by stories of the south before the civil war. I quickly become engrossed in these books, specifically if it covers escape to freedom, which this one does! I really appreciated the author’s ability to show me Mattie’s perspective of this story. As a young mother and slave, she is taken from her very young baby to nurse the brand new baby, Lisbeth at the Big House. Her sadness at the loss of early motherhood moments with her son struck me to the core, but I loved the development of her loving and tender feelings towards Lisbeth.

This book was a bit different from many stories that I have read like this, as the focus of the book was on the relationship between a child and her nurse. It focused greatly on Lisbeth’s experiences in life and how those affected Mattie. This also worked in reverse, as Mattie’s life experiences leave a lasting impression on Lisbeth. Her opinion of the world and her family are forever changed by what she sees in Mattie.

Content Warnings: Slavery and use of derogatory names.

To Read or Not To Read: Readers of books like The Kitchen House and The Help will enjoy this book immensely!

What’s This Book About Anyway?

At birth, Lisbeth is given a young slave as a wet nurse. Mattie, the nurse, is a new mother herself, but is removed from her cabin and baby to live in the Big House and care for Lisbeth. At first Mattie is resentful of little Lisbeth, as she is THE reason Mattie has been taken away from her baby, but she grows to love the little baby, caring for her day and night. Mattie looks forward to each morning and evening as she gets the chance to look out the window to see her little son as he enters and leaves their cabin.

As Lisbeth nears her first birthday, a brother is born and Mattie is taken from Lisbeth and assigned to the new baby. Mattie is heartbroken at this change and Lisbeth is despondent. She becomes so ill, Lisbeth’s mother finally calls for a change assigning Mattie permanently to Lisbeth. From there, the two bond and grow together. This book takes us through Lisbeth’s childhood and into early adulthood. It brings their story to life with beautifully written words and leaves you wanting more at the end.

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