No Choice but Freedom
In the 1750s, an English heiress, Joanna, marries an American planter. She has remained in England while her husband occasionally visits in the course of business. After she gives birth to a son, Joanna decides to take up residence in Virginia. Joanna is an unusual lady for her time. Not only is she is well-educated and knowledgeable about her family’s business, but she is firmly anti-slavery. All this will make her transition to plantation life, where not only blacks but wives are legally chattel, a difficult one. Her husband, she will soon discover, is a scoundrel with designs upon not only her fortune but also her life. Interwoven with this story is that of the African, Ndamma, who is captured and transported and finally wins his freedom.
Both characters were inspired by real lives, those of Elizabeth Begley Morrison and William Servos Hult, so the base upon which the fiction stands is sound. The use of letters to advance the story was a device I found charmingly period correct, and the plot hurried this reader forward. I wanted to get lost in this book, which had a wealth of fascinating plots, but a kind of flatness in characterization proved a hindrance.