Edenland

Written by Wallace King
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

Soon after war breaks out between the North and the South, Bledsoe, an escaped slave from the Our Joy plantation, meets Alice, an Irish immigrant and indentured servant, in the Great Dismal swamp of North Carolina. They become allies and eventually lovers while the Civil War rages around them. They are trying to reach the North, where Bledsoe wishes to fight for the Union. They become separated, and Bledsoe joins forces with an artist and Northern spy. Meanwhile, Alice is rescued and brought to a plantation in North Carolina, where a young girl becomes her friend, and she joins the life of Southern gentility. Will Bledsoe and Alice ever reunite?

The author has written a compelling love story between a black slave and a young white girl. Because this is considered taboo in the South, the two must act as mistress and slave while passing through Southern communities together. When they become separated, Bledsoe and his Northern benefactor maintain an unusual friendship in which Bledsoe is uncertain about his motives. Meanwhile, the relationship between Alice and the young plantation woman is understandable considering the culture in the South before and during the war. Well researched; the steady unraveling of the plot remains gripping until the conclusion. Historical writing at its best.