Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Island of the Red Mangroves - Sarah Lark

Island of Red Mangroves is the follow-up to Sarah Lark's tumultuous novel, "Island of a Thousand Springs," set in Jamaica, 1732.

-- Jamaica, 1753: Deirdre, daughter of Englishwoman, Nora Fortnam and slave Akwasi, lives a sheltered life on her family's plantation. Her stepfather, Doug, has welcomed her into his life as his own. Despite Deirdre's scandalous origin, the men of the island flock to the young beauty, but she shows no interest. That is, until she is charmed by young doctor Victor Dufresne, who asks for her hand in marriage.

-- After their lavish wedding ceremony, Victor and Deirdre embark to Saint-Domingue on the island of Hispaniola, where Deirdre can live without the burden of her mixed background. But what happens there changes everything ...

-- Best-selling international author Sarah Lark delivers a gripping historical account of the social upheaval of the time set against the romantic Caribbean. For fans of Kathleen Grissom,THE KITCHEN HOUSE, Alex Haley, ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY, and Sue Monk Kidd, THE INVENTION OF WINGS.

Set in the 1700’s of the West Indies, this historical fiction proved to be a riveting work.  The story centered around the romantic tale of a young mulatto girl, who also happened to be the acknowledged daughter of a wealthy plantation family and a young doctor who courted and married her.  Interwoven  through the pages and story of the young lady who loved life and fell in love with the French doctor, there was another story that was just as dynamic and interesting.  Social uprising and upheaval is not limited to today.  There were the “haves” and the “have-nots”.  Then there were the small group who believed that there was one race of mankind and that no man should own another’s soul. 
How these groups were thrown together in the world of the 1730’s Sugar Plantations in the Caribbean world created an interesting melting pot as even the attitudes of the planter class varied as they came in from various European countries and brought their laws and social attitudes towards slavery with them.  Caught in the cross-fire of these different social outlooks were the slaves who wanted nothing more than to have the taste of freedom and to no longer feel the taste of brutality that many suffered from at the hands of their owners.
Even though the central story was around the daughter of a plantation owner and a French doctor, there was also a second story of a freeman and a runaway slave who join a pirate gang to escape the Island they are own and make new lives for themselves.  Before long, their lives become entangled with the doctor and his wife on Hispanola.  It is ultimately Jefe, the freeman’s lifelong goal was to become involved in the freedom fighter’s cause and to become the leader. 
I found the story a unique look at life of the era and at the social attitudes of the era.  Sarah did a wonderful job of integrating history into the story, without taking away from the juiciness of the love story.  She gave us the angst of the conflict between peoples, while maintaining the integrity of the outlook of each group.  She allowed us to see the world through the eyes of the underdog and allowed our bleeding hearts to hurt and yearn for freedom for them.  But then she also forced us to see the madness of the zealot who would see to his cause, no matter the cost, at the expense of the wide-eyed innocent who trusted his leadership to bring them freedom from oppression. 
This book is well worth the read and one to sit down and slowly peruse.  Though the second in the series, of which I have not read the first.  It stood well enough on its own, that I thoroughly enjoyed it as a stand alone novel.  I would give this book a solid FOUR STAR rating.  A copy of this book was provided by Net Galley for me to read for an honest review.


Sarah Lark's series of "landscape novels" have made her a bestselling author in Germany, her native country, as well as Spain and the United States. Born in Germany's Ruhr region, she discovered a love of animals early in life. She has written several award-winning books about horses for adults and children. Sarah currently lives with four dogs and a cat on her farm in Almería, Spain, where she cares for retired horses, plays guitar, and sings in her spare time.