The Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts

John F. Blair. Apr. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780895876355. $26.95. F
Miles (The House on Diamond Hill) crafts a moving historical novel around the intersecting stories of five women: three in the present and two in the past. All have chipped shoulders, but each one pins her hopes of confrontation and healing on a Georgia plantation. Owned by Chief James Hold in the early 19th century, the Cherokee Rose Plantation is operated with cruelty, although the chief agrees to host an Indian mission school to play nice with the local government. The missionaries and students transform the plantation in ways they could never have anticipated, creating ripples that would last into the present, when Jinx, Ruth, and Cheyenne all come to its doors for their own reasons. Miles effortlessly re-creates plantation life, but the women of this story are never overshadowed by their world. They are all complex female characters who are, yes, "strong," but also canny, uncertain, and headstrong. In other words, they are like real people: eager to both confront their issues and avoid them at all costs.
VERDICT With the character arcs and the exploration of an often-overlooked area of history—the Native American ownership of African slaves—this is solid choice for book clubs that savor meaty discussion.
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