In the tradition of Roots, Lalita Tademy has meticulously researched her family to create this remarkable epic of four unique women who rise from slavery to freedom on a Creole plantation.

Ms. Tademys story begins with Elizabeth and her daughter Suzette, who dreams of living in the big house and marrying one of the free men of color who live nearby. However, her beauty attracts a Frenchman. As his mistress, she gives birth to a daughter, Philomene.

Like her mother, Philomene has dreams of marrying the young man she adores. Her dreams are shattered when she is forced into becoming a Creole planters other wife and mother of his eight children. Philomene secures her childrens future by being having their home placed in her name.

Her fair-skinned child, Emily, is educated at a convent school, but as a woman of color, she faces great prejudice, hate and visits from the Klan.

Over the years before, during and after the Civil War and into Reconstruction and the new century, the entire family gathers first at Elizabeths and then at Emilys home, always together and stronger for this powerful familial bond.

Not only is CANE RIVER a well-written, meticulously researched biographical novel, but it presents readers with a unique portrait of womens views on the South, slavery and the men who shared (and ruled) their lives. The courage and faith of these strong, passionate women will resonate within every readers heart. (Available now, 400 pp., $20.00) Kathe Robin

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin