|Paperback: 370 pages|
Publisher: iUniverse (2000)
I was slightly surprised this month when Beverly Jenkin’s Indigo, a romance novel set in the 1880s and framed around the Underground Railroad, left me Google-searching her latest best-selling love stories. I’ve always considered the characters in romance novels to be pretentious and shallow, (gag me now!!!) and the storyline to be boring and predictable. My reading selections often stray from the “norm.” My older sister describes me as “morbid” because I gravitate toward books lacking a picture-perfect, story-book ending. I crave story lines as close to reality as possible, even if that reality will force me to cry, cringe, or be disgusted. For this reason, romance novels have never been at the top of my “must-read” list. Instead, I’ve been placing them in the “smut” category along with those books not even worthy of a position in my bathroom’s book and magazine basket, nevertheless one of my bookshelves. (Curious about how I define smut?? Just research Payback is a Mutha for a perfect example.) Indigo, however, is different.
Anyone who knows me understands how much I LOVE history, especially the history of the African Diaspora, so I admit that the historical backdrop of this love story is what first piqued my interest. However, Jenkins, unlike many authors of historical fiction and non-fiction, did not bombard the reader with long-winded passages aimed at setting the scene and tone of the time. She cleverly weaved the rich historical tidbits into the narrative in a way that made me feel like I was reading a real love story, not one that Jenkins first imagined in her mind. Any woman (or gay man if you really want me to go there) who does not finish the book with a crush on Galen has some serious issues. (I seriously considered making my lovely boyfriend take a French class so that I could get an idea of how Hester felt to be addressed as petite and ma couer.) Although there were parts that could have been toned down a bit, for the sake of making the story more believable, I truly enjoyed the love affair Jenkins detailed in Indigo. I also appreciated the way she illustrated the effect of slavery and freedom on former slaves and non slaves (both black and white) through tertiary characters.
If you have ever been curious about the Underground Railroad, I recommend Indigo. There is enough historical detail to make you want to dig a little deeper. Even if the thought of reading something with a historical backdrop makes you want to yawn, Indigo is a must-read. This is by far one of the best love stories that I have read in 10 years.
Written by Janelle Williams
Writer and Beauty/Skin Care Consultant
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