Friday, August 26, 2022

Island Queen by Vanessa Riley


Dorothy Kirwan Thomas was born a slave in the 1750's on the island of Montserrat, the daughter of a slave and a white planter owner.  She and her sister lived there until their half brother, who hates but desires Dorothy started to rape her, giving her two children.  Dorothy, or Dolly as her family called her, found another planter to help her sister when she is whipped and threatened with being sold after defending Dolly by attacking their half brother.  

As the two sisters move to Demerara, Dolly is determined to find a way to free Kitty and herself.  She starts to train housekeepers who are soon highly prized by the planation masters.  She sells things in the market, saving all her profits.  And she falls in love with several men, notably the man who helped her escape Montserrat.  She continues to have children but he goes back to Scotland and his wife there.

Dolly eventually becomes rich enough with a variety of businesses to free her entire family.  She marries a sea captain after having an affair with the English prince who is sailing the Caribbean.  Her marriage is successful and she ends up having ten children in all.  She has hotels and a plantation of her own, and becomes a slaveowner herself, having more slaves than anyone else on the island.   Dolly has become a successful, wealthy woman known for her intelligence and business acumen.  

Vanessa Riley has a background in mechanical engineering.  She writes historical fiction, often set in Victorian times, and focuses on people of color, showing their lives and bringing them from the shadows.  Dolly is a real woman whose story is amazing although readers may doubt the story that every man who meets her falls deeply in love with her.  This book is recommended for multicultural and historical fiction readers.

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