First published: 2010
This new book starts in 1837.
A plantation slave, Mattie, is called to serve in the big house as the lady has had a baby girl. Mattie is to nurse her and look after her. That means she has to leave her own son behind, who is just three months old. It’s sad, but she has no say in this, and has to do what she’s told.
I find the differences between Mattie and the lady Ann very interesting. Mattie can’t see her son because she isn’t allowed since she has to take care of the baby girl (Miss Elizabeth). In contrast, Ann doesn’t see her daughter in the first days of her life because she decides she is tired and isn’t ready to see her. Both mothers are actually separated from their offspring because that’s what it’s expected from them in the period. Naturally, Mattie’s case is sadder.
The book seems to be about the relationship between Mattie and Miss Elizabeth. In these first pages there’s something that might be inaccurate. I’m not an expert in history, but in the southern plantations household chores were also run by slaves, and not white servants. In this book there’s the housekeeper and Emily, who are both white people. I don’t know if this is historically accurate or not, but it’s something that has surprised me.