Fireburn by Apple Gidley
Informed by impeccable research and infused with a deep curiosity and love for the beauty and complexity of the West Indies, Fireburn is at times shocking, at times deeply moving and always engaging. Historical fiction of the highest class.
Gidley is a skilful and assured story-teller, unafraid to take on complexities of race, class and gender, while at the same time creating unforgettable characters and a story that kept me reading deep into the night.
Like the very best historical fiction, Fireburn brings the past to life in glorious technicolour.”
The Danish-owned island of 1870s Saint Croix vibrates with passion and tension as Anna Clausen, a young Anglo-Danish woman, returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death. Her heart sinks at what she finds on arrival. Her father is ailing and desolate and her beloved plantation, Anna’s Fancy, that has been in the Clausen family for three generations, is in shambles.
The unwelcome lust of one man and forbidden love for another makes Anna’s return to Saint Croix even more turbulent. Despite the decline in the sugar industry she is determined to retain Anna’s Fancy but must first win the trust of her field workers, of Sampson, the foreman and the grudging respect of Emiline, the cook and local weed woman.
Fireburn tells the horrors of a little-known, bloody period of Caribbean history. Weathering personal heartache Anna survives the worker rebellion of 1878, 30 years after Emancipation, as she challenges the conventions of the day and faces hostility from the predominantly male landowners.