SISTER OF MINE by Sabra Waldfogel
Although this novel takes place during the years of the Civil War, it is more a novel of two sisters – one white, one black -- and how they learn to not just tolerate, but love each other. Adelaide is the white daughter of the largest plantation owner in their small town. Rachel is her half-sister, born of her father’s liaison with one of his slaves. Rachel serves as her sister’s maid.
The novel backtracks to cover the earlier life of the family. In flashbacks, the family dynamics, Adelaide’s family’s Jewishness, Adelaide’s social punishment for a broken engagement, her later marriage and the repercussions of failing to love her husband are explored. The Civil War serves to bring the plot to its conclusion.
The novel explores Jews in the South, marriage in wealthy families, the plight of slaves, abolition and slave owners, social conventions in antebellum Southern states, and the dynamics of slaves bearing the master’s children.
The characters are well drawn and act and speak in reasonable terms. Good research has been done. The plot is creative and interesting.
4 of 5 stars