KIRUS REVIEW

15 July 2018

 

THE HEIRESS OF HEAVEN

Dorothea Hubble Bonneau Manuscript (372 pp.)

 

BOOK REVIEW

In this historical fiction novel by Bonneau  a young, biracial girl in South Carolina struggles with her status as the heiress to a plantation.

It’s October 1807, just three months before Alexandra de Gambia’s 16th birthday. For the duration of her young life, she’s thought of a black girl named Lulu as her playmate. Now, as she grows older, she must confront the fact that their relationship is that of mistress and slave. Heaven’s Hill, the plantation owned by her parents who live apart, is divided in two. Her biracial mother, Josephine, rules over the big house and its slaves, and her father, a prosperous, black landowner who goes by the nickname “The Panther,” lives with other free people of color in a village that’s a replica of his Gambian ancestors’ home. The trans-Atlantic slave trade is on the brink of being outlawed, and Alexandra is torn between two worlds: Her mother wants her to “pass” in so-called “high-born” white society, but she also wants Lulu and the other slaves to get their freedom. Alexandra overhears local white men planning to burn down her father’s stables because they think that it “Ain’t right for a darkie to own all this land,” and then a brutally racist new sheriff arrives. Will she be able to bridge the gap between black and white townsfolk? My writing credits include a novel (Northwest Publishing), two optioned screenplays (Sub Rosa), twenty produced stage plays (Dramatic Publishing), a weekly column (The Davis Enterprise, Davis, CA.)  and numerous articles.

This is a riveting story that addresses the often overlooked and controversial topic of free black people owning slaves in America. Bonneau is a skilled storyteller who also ably weaves African spirituality into her plot. Alexandra’s internal battles with an African ghost, which visits her when she’s weak or fearful, are fascinating: “‘You don’t have the courage to do this thing,’ the Ahoelra whispers. ‘I do have the courage,’ she whispers back.” Alexandra is a tenacious heroine who’s easy to root for, and the author elegantly articulates her precarious position between white and black society. Overall, this novel explores issues of equality and personal freedom in thought-provoking ways.

Sharp writing, an original plot, and a strong female protagonist make for an engrossing read.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

 

I’ve been a fan of Dorothea Bonneau’s writing for years. She has a keen sense of the imagination and is skilled at evoking entire worlds with her words."

 

Tina Howe, Screenwriter, Novelist

Seekers from Zantaparon 

 

I want to recommend a wonderful book to you by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau, Seekers from Zantaparon. The books heroine, sixteen-year-old Mary Delawees, learns to focus the power of her mind to access altered states of consciousness and uses her skills to conquer many physical and mental obstacles. Mary's journey takes the reader on a unique and thrilling journey into new imaginal worlds in her quest to recover an irreplaceable ozone repair formula. But the larger story within Seekers is that unlike many science fiction titles, Bonneau's heroine does not rely on violence but rather on the power of her mind and her ability to love to overcome evil.

Seekers from Zantaparon is also a story about the recognition and reclamation of the human soul and the qualities of spirit that bring meaning to life. Mary's journey holds keys to archetypal messages that will speak to many searching for inner truth and recognition of what has heart and meaning in their lives.

Seekers from Zantaparon, like Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, will appeal to readers of all ages. It has a timeless quality and contains messages that will last a lifetime. I do hope that you will make a point of reading it.

Ruth Cox, former reader for Disney

 



 

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