Title: Seeds of Magnolia
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: The most peaceful years of Austin Miller’s life were before he married. Only he, Sophia and her mother, Elizabeth, were in the house. After his marriage, the house became a hotbed of chaos fueled by overzealous attitudes and unyielding temperaments. His marriage had been strained by adultery, and after it had been patched, they were separated by the war. Sophia’s best friends were three white girls that she grew up with. When seen by someone that did not know them, they would assume that all four were white. The color of their skin would not be enough to tell that one had a trace of black blood in her veins that made her a slave. Appearing to be white did not make a person white, and being black had its’ limitations. Yet, in a small southern town in Tennessee, Sophia ignored the social code regarding interracial relationships. Seeds of Magnolia unveils some of the stories that have been sheltered by the family—stories that have been kept in the closet, swept under the rug, or just gone untold.
Author: Bill Miller Note: Bill Miller is a first-time, self-published author.
For those readers who don’t know me, let me preface this book review by saying two things: I dislike historical books; and I dislike books that are almost 450 pages. But I started reading…
Just reading the synopsis captured my attention. This book was an emotional page-turner. I cried, I laughed, and I got angry…throughout the book to the very end.
The story began when Austin Miller purchased Elizabeth as his housekeeper from the Mrs. Taylor. Mr. Taylor had just died and they had recently moved from North Carolina to Tennessee. Mrs. Taylor was happy to get rid of them, since Elizabeth had been raped by Mr. Taylor, and had a baby, Sophia, who strongly resembled Mr. Taylor. Mrs. Taylor did not want to look at Sophia, a toddler, as a constant reminder of her deceased husband’s infidelity. So, Elizabeth and her child were sold to Austin Miller.
Elizabeth had no idea if the Miller plantation would be any different than the Taylor plantation for their slaves. But indeed the Miller plantation was like no other plantation. On the Miller plantation, Sophia grew up with three playmates and best friends, Caroline, Amanda and Emily. And when people saw the four of them playing together, they assumed they were four white girls, and they didn’t realize that one of the girls was a slave.
Austin Miller was a lawyer, a politician and a wealthy single businessman, who worked long hours and just wanted peaceful evenings, so he didn’t bother correcting slave life at the plantation—as long as it felt right, he was fine. For many years, this was a peaceful life for Austin Miller, his slave housekeeper and her child.
Then Mr. Miller married a rich widow with two children and an arrogant attitude. Mrs. Miller believed that slaves were at the bottom of the social class, while their owners were at the top of society and she ran her household as such, which contrasted with how Mr. Miller had run the household before his wife’s arrival.
Mrs. Miller had an inimitable personality and there was constant conflict between her and Sophia, who was now a teenager with an attitude, as well. Life happened during the next few years—Magnolia Manor was built, children were born, Mr. Miller was a member of the Senate, adultery scarred their marriage, friends came and friends were lost, love blossomed among slaves at bush harbor, and the family continued to grow in size.
Then the biggest change of all—the Civil War. It divided families, friends, the North and the South, slaves and slave owners. Mr. Miller left for his safety. Generals Grant and Sherman arrived to take over Magnolia Manor. Mrs. Miller and the slaves were left to fend for themselves during this time of destruction.
Absolutely nothing was the same after the Civil War was over. Life and attitudes would never be as they were prior to the war.
So much happened and I just couldn’t put the book down. When I finished reading, it was a sigh of relief and happiness, because my thirst had been quenched. I always enjoy it when an author mixes both history and fiction to make a truly believable and spell-bounding story.
There were some minor editing issues—misspelled and omitted words—that I attributed to the length of the book…450 pages. I am looking forward to the sequel. After reading Seeds of Magnolia, I can no longer say that I dislike historical books. LOL.
I wish Bill Miller much success in his writing endeavors.
I rate this book…
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