Receive Me Falling is an excellent debut novel from Erika Robuck. It chronicles the plight of Meg, whose parents die in a tragic car accident while on their way home from her engagement party. As Meg sifts through her parents’ belongings, she discovers that she is heiress to a former sugar plantation, named Eden, which is found on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean.
Eager for a respite from her woes, Meg heads down to the island. She is in awe of its obvious former beauty and wishes to revive the house, though she is not keen to learn that it was a slave plantation in its heyday. Upon discovering that her father came by his wealth, including this plantation, through illegal means, Meg decides she needs to sell the plantation. She owes millions of dollars to the people her father had swindled.
Simultaneously, the story of Catherine is told. Catherine Dall runs her father Cecil’s sugar plantation, which is the Eden that Meg has come to love. Catherine is unlike other plantation owners, in that she believes slavery is wrong.
She comes more at odds with her family and her beliefs when British abolitionists arrive on the island.
The two women’s stories are told in alternating chapters, each one paralleling the other. Each woman learns more secrets about her family, as the stories progress. Each women’s plans for a perfect life and happiness is shattered by deceit, much as the original Eden was ruined by Eve’s deception by the serpent Satan. How each woman copes with the deception, however, is different. Their resolutions and ends are opposite.
The book itself divides nicely with the alternating chapters, as each one neatly flows into the other, despite the time setting differences. It is easy to keep track of what is happening within each story. While not a book that can be polished off in one afternoon, it is engaging enough to keep you coming back for more. The underlying ghost story isn’t meant to be macabre or scary; it’s actually almost believable.
Another appealing part about this book is that it discusses slaves in the Caribbean islands. So many stories revolve around the American’s enslaving Africans, forgetting that we were not the only ones to do so. Erika Robuck did a lot of research to maintain the accuracy of slave life on the sugar plantations. This alternate point of view demonstrates the cruelty that slaves faced, despite their location, as well as the attempts by abolitionists to treat them as humans.
Erika Robuck is a descriptive writer who makes the reader feel as if she is actually there. I could easily picture the characters and settings and felt like I was there while I was reading. I found the book to be highly enjoyable and engaging, and have already recommended it to friends.
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Read Erika Robuck's blog.
Read another review, posted on Everything Distils Into Reading.
Andrea Coventry is a reviewer for Bookpleasures.com