Don’t let it be said that Bookouture blog tours are not effective! This book wasn’t on my radar until I saw a wealth of reviews praising it, naturally it became a must read. And it had that extra pull as it’s set in Guyana and, by way of my dad, I’m half Guyanese.
An unputdownable story about a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.
All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…
Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.
But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…
An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets.
The Girl from the Sugar Plantation is the final book in The Quint Chronicles, it follows The Secret Life of Winnie Cox and The Sugar Planter’s Daughter – but it is absolutely a standalone novel. How can I be sure? Because I read and fully enjoyed it without reading the previous two novels. Whereas the previous two novels focus on Winnie Cox, Mary Grace’s aunt, this novel branches off and gives you the life of Mary Grace. What I will say is, this novel is such a delightful read, it will make you want to read the other two – they are firmly now on my wish-list, along with The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q, which is a further branch off story of one of the characters we meet in this novel. I hope that’s put this novel in context for you, if not – all you need know is: it’s good, read it!
My initial pull to this novel was its location, Georgetown, Guyana – the birthplace of my father, and it made me so happy to learn more about Guyana through this novel. It’s always a beautiful touch when you read something in a novel that resonates with you in real life, for example, my dad has long been a fan of the sport of cricket, and every time these characters went to play cricket, it made me think of my dad and the times, as a little girl, I would go and watch him play. I toyed with the idea of playing myself, until I was hit in the face with a cricket ball! This novel certainly had a sentimental pull to it and I thank Maas for really allowing the culture of Guyana to shine through in her storytelling.
But that’s not to say you need this sentimental value to enjoy this novel, The Girl from the Sugar Plantation is a touching read, rich in history and characters, creating a pleasant reading experience for all. With strong themes of social injustice and prejudice, Mary Grace struggles to find her place in a world where skin colour determines your social status. Being mixed-race, her mother said she cannot marry a black man because that would mean to marry down in social status and that simply will not do, but to upper white class society, her skin is simply too dark.
Set against the backdrop of the onset of the second world war, this novel is also a coming-of-age story for Mary Grace and Maas does a brilliant job of developing her character, from her somewhat sheltered life to the harsh realities of the society she lives in. Where love is not as simple as it should be, where family secrets threaten to tear her world apart.
Winnie was my favourite character in this novel, a confidant to all, a strong woman who knows her own mind. But I did enjoy the portrayal of Jock’s character, his determination to right the wrongs of his family but he’s about to find out just how hard it is for change to come from above – from a white privileged background, can Jock be a catalyst for change?
I’d recommend The Girl from the Sugar Plantation to anyone who enjoys reading family sagas, enjoys meeting members of the family from each generation and most importantly, enjoys meeting a fictional family whose dynamic and life-stories are interesting and a pleasure to read about. I look forward to reading all the books in The Quint Chronicles.