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I'm so glad I realised there were two books prior to this before reading this one. I love the continuation of Lisbeth and Matties stories, and how their families remain intertwined despite everything that changes.
I read Laila Ibrahim's 'Yellow Crocus' several years ago and found it really enjoyable. When I spotted that one of this month's Amazon Prime First Reads was another of her books, I grabbed it without hesitation. When I realised it was a continuation of the 'Yellow Crocus' characters, I was even happier with my choice - although I have to admit I did read the whole thing without realising I'd missed the volume that goes between 'Yellow Crocus' and 'Golden Poppies'. The great thing is that I didn't need to have read 'Mustard Seed' (the middle book) or to have any detailed memory of 'Yellow Crocus' in order to enjoy this one.
If you ask me "Can I read this without reading the others?" I'd say you can, but you might get a bit more context if you've read at least one of the previous books.
In 'Yellow Crocus' Ibrahim took on the issues of slavery and the ownership and abuse of other human beings. Time has passed and 'Golden Poppies' is set in the late 1800s, at a time when slavery is no more, but prejudice is still rife. It focuses on the cross-racial relationships and friendships of the two families descended from Mattie the black slave-woman who was wet nurse to Lisbeth, the slave-owner's daughter. Younger generations come to the fore in this book and themes include the campaign for women's rights, and the campaign to prevent the lynching of black men. We're also introduced to wage inequality between the races, 'passing off', and domestic abuse between experienced by the characters.
As a Brit reading about the campaign for Universal Sufferage in the USA, I'm at a disadvantage because the historical characters are not so familiar to me as they would be if the book were set in my home country. I may, therefore, miss some of the significance of the famous characters introduced, but that didn't stop my enjoyment. I really like Laila Ibrahim's style of writing and her willingness to take on controversial story-lines and put her characters through the wringer in sometimes extreme ways.
I now REALLY need to go back and read Mustard Seed.
Having already read both of the preceding books in this series, I was intrigued to see how life progressed for the characters who had grabbed my attention and interest in them. I was not disappointed in the least, and found it particularly appropriate to be following the fight of women in America to obtain the right to vote, and, at the same time, the fight of African Americans to achieve any degree of equality following the official end of slavery. What is equally sad is that, at this very time, so many years on from when the novel is set, people in the US and elsewhere are still being treated as second class citizens, despite having officially obtained equality long ago. In my teenage years, when we marched against apartheid and for Civil Rights and Women's Liberation, none of us would have dreamt that we would still be fighting the same battle 50 years on. Yet, there is hope in this work, as what always strikes me is that it is only in getting to know and understand people of all nationalities, creeds and colours, that we can ever overcome our fears and preconceptions, and Leila Ibrahim's characters exemplify how this change is brought about.
This is a decent story, if a little confusing in terms of the secondary characters and their relationships to and with each other and the main characters.
Given what's going on in the USA at the moment it's always useful to get further historical context to underlying issues. I felt that this book could have explored further the reasons for the failure of US society to integrate fully, a problem which hasn't diminished over 150 years after the end of the Civil War.
Incidentally, I probably would have given this book 4 stars, possibly 3 1/2, but decided not to do so because of (spoiler alert) the casual racism expressed towards Sadie's husband. His appalling behaviour is explained by saying "he's German" which is just as unacceptable as any other form of discrimination. The character is a deeply unpleasant and flawed individual; his being German or otherwise has no bearing.
I enjoyed it but not as much as her other books. I absolutely loved Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed but found this rather slow and because it's a while since I read them, it wasn't until the "willow tree incident" was mentioned that I realised it was a follow on! I may well in the future read them all again, and hopefully enjoy this one more. She is an excellent writer and I look forward to reading. whatever she writes next!!
This is a great follow on from The Yellow Crocus and The Mustard Seed. It is now set at the end of the 1800’s . The characters from the first two books are now older Lisbeth her daughter Sadie, Jordan and her daughter Naomi set the story. It covers the time in USA when women were trying tog get votes for women and how unfair the rights for the Blacks were with regard to jobs and pay.. This is. Wonderful book that I couldn’t put down I absolutely loved it and hope there will be a 4th book in this series as I want to know what happens to the characters next. Thank you Laila I got so much enjoyment from it. Perfect for the current COVID pandemic I bought all three books for my twin sister on our birthday in June. She is loving the first one .
I really loved all the characters and I felt she explored a variety of personal stories and issues for that time. However I felt it was missing a real gripping story line, when I finished the book I felt that not that much had actually happened.
A brilliant read. So poignant at this time. Strength in its characters living when powerful people controlling unfairly with twists of love and faith. as domination in history has evolved Human kindness and love outweigh some injustices to its leading characters but not for all the right reasons. A book with glue on every page as I couldn’t put it down!
I really enjoyed this book. It has well drawn, strong female characters, written with much care and detail. I always think that the first challenge for a writer is to get the reader to care what happens to the characters; to become engrossed in their lives. This author had me at page 1. I did not know that there were earlier books involving some of the characters until much later in the book when this was made obvious. However, the book can stand alone. I like books that are woven around real events; they inform and educate. I read this during the Black Lives Matter protests; the theme of deep routed discrimination and the struggle against this resonated with what is happening today. I hope that there is another book about the families; to find out what happens next for the characters.