An unputdownable story of a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.
1934, Guyana. All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…
Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.
But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…
An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets.
It’s no secret that I adore Sharon Maas’s books, so when a new one comes out I am always very excited and eager to read it. There is always a sense of anticipation when picking up the new novel by one of your favourite authors; will it be as good as their previous novels? What if it doesn’t live up to expectations? Maas, however, delivers again and The Girl From The Sugar Plantation exceeded all my expectations.
The Girl From The Sugar Plantation is the third (and sadly final) part of The Quint Chronicles. It works perfectly as a standalone so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books. We follow Mary Grace (known as Grace) Smedley-Cox in British Guyana from 1935 to the 1960’s. Grace is the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners and, at the age of sixteen, she is desperate to know the truth behind her parentage. What follows is an epic story of family deceit, love and identity set against a stunning backdrop and yet there is much more to this book than that.
Maas, as always, has beautifully created the sense of place. You can see, smell and hear Guyana and you are completely transported there. The Guyanan sun was a welcome break from the somewhat dull British autumn months. You are on the plantations and in Georgetown while reading this book and, indeed, Maas’s other books in the series.
With a rich cast of characters, you cannot help but get completely absorbed in their lives. Grace is in an unusual situation in that she has status as the daughter of plantation owners but she is the ‘wrong’ skin colour during a time and in a place in which the colour of your skin determines your future and your standing. This gives The Girl From The Sugar Plantation that extra depth which makes the book all the more compelling.
Alongside the tale of family secrets and love is the tale of oppression and social change and it is this aspect that makes The Girl From The Sugar Plantation even more enjoyable for me. Maas has clearly carefully conducted her research and portrays this time of great change in Guyanan history with authenticity, skilfully mixing historical fact with fiction.
The political landscape The Girl From The Sugar Plantation is fascinating. I only realised on reading the Historical Notes that Jock Campbell actually existed and that there is very little written about this hero. Maas has done him and his family proud in her portrayal of him. It is comforting to know that in an often harsh and unequal world there are and have been people out there who have a social conscience and become a force for good.
I adored The Girl From The Sugar Plantation and recommend it highly. If you love books that contain exotic settings, family secrets and lies and historical fact you will enjoy this book. Maas has brought us a wonderfully written piece of historical fiction.
Published on 19 October 2017 by Bookouture.
A huge thank you to Sharon Maas, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
To read my reviews of Sharon’s other books and the Author Influences feature with her click HERE.