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 more 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.
A colleague recommended this book to me. As she was describing the story line, it reminded me of The Help, a favourite of mine, so I had to read it.
Yellow Crocus touches on slavery and confinements even the privileged women experienced. It was shocking to read some of the character's views, and even more so when remembering that these views were the ones of many back then. The characters would talk about slaves not being human or having morals, and that women should not talk about politics, finance, religion, or anything of substance if they wanted to be considered wife material.
It's difficult to talk about this book without giving anything away, but I will say that I really liked it. I liked seeing the characters develop over the years, and the relationships which grew. What made it interesting was how different Mattie and Elizabeth, and their struggles, were, yet their affection for one another remained the same. I kept my fingers crossed for them, and was happy when certain events occurred.
Some have criticised the book for glossing over slavery and turning it into a fairytale. I can understand that, but you have to remember that this is fiction, and it doesn't claim to reflect the facts. Obviously, slavery is far more horrific than this book makes out, but the story focuses on the relationships, not the institution.
If you enjoyed The Help, I really think you'll like this, too.