Dreams of Savannah

Written by Roseanna M. White
Review by J. Lynn Else

1861. Betrayed, shot, and washed overboard, Confederate soldier Phineas Dunn wakes up on the shores of Cuba. His only hope of survival is a Reverend from England, who happens to be a free Black man. Reverend Luther Bromley can’t understand God’s plan until Phin mentions where he’s from—Savannah, which is the same place his wife was taken to be sold. Can this young plantation owner help to free his wife? Meanwhile in Savannah, Cordelia creates tales of adventures of her love, Phin, after receiving word he’s lost at sea. She refuses to believe he’s dead. However, a persistent, wealthy cousin will do his best to ingratiate himself with her family to make Cordelia his, even against her own will. As Cordelia begins seeing a darker side to her cousin, she prays Phin arrives home before it’s too late.

“It’s not that she doesn’t see the tragedy—she just chooses which stories to tell.” Cordelia (Delia) is a dreamer and storyteller with her eye towards daring adventures and happily-ever-afters. She’s a tenacious and witty narrator. While her outlook continues to be challenged, it’s her evolving relationships with the other characters that drives the plot forward. Running concurrent to her story is a recovering Phin, whose moral compass is called into question as he gets to know Luther. Everything’s firmly grounded in faith and trusting God.

White does a fantastic job exploring characters’ thought processes as perspectives begin shifting. The narrative alternates among Delia, Phin, Luther, and Delia’s personal slave, Salina, helping encompass a variety of viewpoints on weighty issues like freedom and equality. In the afterword, White discusses her research and use of English Creole/Gullah. Her care and detail to the history are strongly felt. An enjoyable, emotionally-driven story of discovering the story in those around us.