Tag Archive | slavery

To Whisper Her Name (Book Review)

To Whisper Her Name is as Post-Civil War Southern fictional story that takes place on a very real to life Belle Meade Plantation. That location is the star of the novel and a character in it’s own right.

to whisper her nameOlivia Aberdeen has suffered the humiliation of her brutal husband being branded a traitor to the South and publicly disgraced and murdered. Although ignorant of his misdeeds she is branded with the tint of scandal. Turned from her home she finds refuge at Belle Meade Plantation where her mother’s dearest friend lives. Unfortunately it is also a horse stud farm and Olivia is deathly afraid of horses.

Nothing goes quite as planned when Ridley Cooper comes to Belle Meade to learn about horses  from Bob Greene, a man he met during the war while fighting for the North. Having to keep his part in the war a secret while working with the stud farm and for a General for the Southern Army is a challenge for the strong-willed Ridley. But he hasn’t met strong until he’s run into the prim and proper widow, Olivia. As days turn into weeks and months, Ridley’s dreams of heading West are put on hold while Olivia fears she will once again be “sold” to another husband to help benefit the Belle Meade plantation.

This is a story rich in details and slow in laying out the story and it’s conflicts. It is well and beautifully written. The biggest boldest faith comes from the Negroes on the plantation, the rest is not quite as deep. It is a great look at how some white people, even after the war was lost in the south, were willing to start treating black people more as equals in some ways, but they had a long road to hoe to overcome years of racism.

I loved the characters of Ridley and Olivia. The book is long. It has a slow start. I’m horribly allergic to horses (not matter how beautiful I believe them to be), although I appreciate the painstaking parallels between the training of the thoroughbreds and the gentling of Olivia’s fears that Ridley undertook. The character of Grady and his  threats was a plot thread that was left hanging unresolved. When the end finally came it felt like it wound up too fast and I almost wished less time was spent earlier on to be able to more fully enjoy the way Ridley and Olivia finally connect. I felt a bit shortchanged in that regard after all the work in getting there.

If you want to live in the South, right after the civil war and see what life was like back then, this historical will do the job. Even though this reviewer is from the North, I do have to agree that much of what happened to decimate the South as part of that war was over and beyond what was necessary to win freedom from the slaves. This novel illustrates that suffering to a certain degree although taking place within the two years after the war I suspect the relationships illustrated between Negroes and Whites in this novel is an ideal and did not reflect reality (equal pay for a job?). Poetic, fictional license but it aided the story and the dignity that the former slaves deserved.

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The Horror of Sexual Slavery

 

This past Sunday, I got up at church to talk about how our Women’s Ministry had engaged in the battle against the slave-trade globally and locally. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the issue out there, but it is something, a step in the right direction. I believe I heard that one in four women is impacted by sexual abuse/assault of some kind. 25%. I fall into that category. I’m not proud of it and to be honest, it makes it harder to want to engage in the larger war. Not because it’s not worthwhile, it is. But because it forces me to open up a door that sometimes is more comfortable to keep closed and locked by shame. By looking and confronting global issues, I have to wrestle once again with my own pain, violation and what was lost. So if it took me years to come to admit that this global issue needs attention, how much more for all those others who have been impacted in some way shape and form? Amazing how messy we are in our humanness.

Let’s face it. The trading of human flesh (usually female) for the instant gratification of man’s baser needs (money, sex) is inexcusable. The slave trade now is larger than in the day of William Wilberforce. The numbers are staggering and I cannot get my mind around them. I admire the men and women of the International Justice Mission who, one life at time, methodically work the legal system to gain the freedom of so many, and places them in safe houses where they can be loved and recover from the trauma and find peace and hope in the ultimate Savior, Jesus Christ. IJM go into harm’s way to do their work. Evil does not like a light to shine into this darkness and will fight back ruthlessly. Please pray for these people. Support them if you can afford to.

Women at Risk, International also does good work in providing safe-houses and also micro-businesses for women to keep them out of the slave trade – and to help them when they are rescued. Buying the items that these women create out of their pain into something of great beauty is something to behold. These are just two ministries at work; bring people out of darkness and into the love and joy of God’s light. I follow them on facebook and rejoice with every ONE person who is rescued, while grieving that they were ever enslaved to begin with. But this takes place in the United States and we would be naïve to think that our sons and daughters are safe.

Locally we are working with an organization in the town where I live that is front line at the Emergency Room when victims of sexual assault are brought in. We provide practical love and care when they are done and we pray for these women. God knows their names and their need for His love in the midst of their pain. And we pray.

More does need to be done. If only we (and I include myself) could unwrap our little cocoon of safety to stretch ourselves out on behalf of those who cannot. It may mean facing some ugly stuff inside while facing the ugly truths of our world. But it breaks God’s heart – and it should be breaking mine too.