In 1837, Lisbeth Wainwright is born to the white mistress of a sprawling Virginia plantation. Seconds later, she is delivered into the arms of her black wet nurse, Mattie. For a field hand like Mattie, her transfer to the big house is supposed to be considered an honor—except that the move tears Mattie away from her beloved grandfather and her infant son, Samuel. But Mattie is a slave, with no say in the matter, and so she devotes herself to her master’s daughter, though she longs to be raising her own child. Growing up under Mattie’s tender care, little Lisbeth adopts the woman’s deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring.
As the years pass, Lisbeth is drawn slowly back into her white parents’ world and begins to learn the ins and outs of life for a high-born young lady. Still she retains her connection to Mattie, befriending Samuel and drifting comfortably between the two worlds. She accepts her parents’ assertion that their slaves depend upon them for guidance and protection, yet that notion becomes more and more difficult to believe as she gains awareness of the inequality of life in the big house versus the slave quarters. When, on the threshold of her society wedding to debonair Edward Cunningham, Lisbeth bears witness to a shockingly brutal act, the final vestiges of her naiveté crumble around her. Just twenty-one years old, she is forced to choose between what is socially acceptable and what is right, a decision that will change her life forever.
This compelling historical novel chronicles young Lisbeth Wainwright’s coming-of-age during one of the most difficult chapters of American history. Lisbeth’s powerful bond with Mattie makes her loss of innocence in the face of society’s ugly secrets all the more heartbreaking, and yet it is the courage she learns from her stand in mother that enables Lisbeth to blaze a new path for herself. Yellow Crocus offers moving proof of how the greatest social change often blooms forth from small personal acts of love.
Not available for Nook.
This is a story that is during times of slavery in the South and the relationship a little girl has with her wet nurse. It was interesting reading how wealthy women didn’t breastfeed, rather they had a lactating slave girl breastfeed. This meant that the wet nurse often had to leave her own baby behind to be breastfed by someone in the plantation. The little girl, Miss Lisbeth, becomes so attached to her Mattie, that she gets severely sick when she is separated from her so that Mattie can breastfeed Mattie’s newborn brother. Distraught and feeling helpless, Lisbeth’s mom decides to keep Mattie with her daughter and has another wet nurse take care of her newborn son.
As time passes, the relationship between Mattie and Miss. Lisbeth grows into a relationship of mother/daughter, friend, and helper. Lisbeth breaks conventional rule by walking amongst the others at the slave plantation and teaching Mattie’s son and other plantation children how to read. When we hear the saying ,” knowledge is power”, there is so much truth to that statement! In this book, it is evident as slaves learning to read can potentially be a threat to their plantation owners as they run away and buy tickets to move to the North.
Laila Ibrahim shares the societal and cultural expectations Mattie’s family experiences as she is groomed to be a wife and mother. Mattie is also faced with life/death situations when she decides that she doesn’t want her son to live his last days on the plantation. She desires freedom for her son and that is always at the back of her mind. Both Mattie and Lisbeth are faced with these challenges and pressures as they also navigate through their own relationship and determine if they can truly trust each other.
This story is so complex, with characters faced with life changing situations, that the reader will truly love every bit of this story. It’s a different story from, “The Help”, and one that I actually equally loved! It’s a great book that sheds light on the way America was at one time and the shameful ways people were slaved and abused.
- Anti-Slavery Mobilization (kprudchenko.wordpress.com)
- enslaved (rwswj.wordpress.com)
- Daffodils – One of the First Flowers of Spring (proflowers.com)