Do you enjoy reading historical fiction set in the tropics?
Today’s featured book is set on the island of St. Croix in the 1870s and tells “the horrors of a little-known, bloody period of Caribbean history.”
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The book: Fireburn
Written by: Apple Gidley
Originally published: 2017
Living on an island as a creative person (whether it be as an artist, a writer, or other form of expression), you’ll often find yourself inspired by the most random of moments. A smell of warm island seasoning wafts through the air, someone on the ferry makes an offhand comment, a vibrant color in nature contrasts with another… and just like that, you’re transported.
It was one of these moments that inspired today’s featured author, Apple Gidley, to write her historical novel, Fireburn. While attending a ceremony on her home rock of St. Croix, Apple got to wondering about the island’s history and what life was like for those living there hundreds of years ago.
This book is engaging and well-researched. While all of the characters are fictitious, the events that the story centers around are true.
The Danish-owned island of 1870s Saint Croix vibrates with passion and tension as Anna Clausen, a young Anglo-Danish woman, returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death. Her heart sinks at what she finds on arrival. Her father is ailing and desolate and her beloved plantation, Anna’s Fancy, which has been in the Clausen family for three generations, is in shambles.
The unwelcome lust of one man and forbidden love for another makes Anna’s return to Saint Croix even more turbulent. Despite the decline in the sugar industry she is determined to retain Anna’s Fancy but must first win the trust of her field workers, of Sampson the foreman, and the grudging respect of Emiline the cook and local weed woman.
Fireburn tells of the horrors of a little-known, bloody period of Caribbean history. Anna weathers personal heartache as she challenges the conventions of the day, the hostility of the predominantly male landowners and survives the worker rebellion of 1878, 30 years after Emancipation.
Rich in description, Fireburn is a well-researched novel that shines a light on a historic period in Saint Croix that has received little attention in literature until now. – via Amazon
Readers who will love this book:
Readers who enjoy books written from varying perspectives. This novel alternates between several character’s voices. It keeps the book moving and provides more of a complete picture of what’s happening throughout.
Those who like books with a strong female lead. The main character, Anna, is an energetic, resourceful woman who rises to the challenge of taking over the family’s ailing plantation. The two main supporting characters, Ivy and Emiline, are also women whose stories you’ll no doubt enjoy following.
Those who wonder what life on their island was like many moons ago. The Caribbean doesn’t have the sunniest of histories and this particular time period that’s covered in this book – the worker’s rebellion of 1878 – is hard to read at times, yet provides important insights into St. Croix’s past. The island scenery is also described in vivid detail and will transport you as you read.
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If you’ve read the featured book too, be sure to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page – we can chat about it and it’ll be like our own island-style book club!
Looking for more Island Reads? Here are some others I’ve covered for you to check out:
If you’re a fellow island reader and would like to connect on all things books, you can find me on Goodreads. I even have a shelf of island related books, which I plan to cover in future posts like this one.