Star Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
Penguin Putnam Inc, January 2015
Online Price: R257.00
Sometimes, you go looking for adventure, all you find is disaster – Queen Sugar
I was introduced to Queen Sugar through the hit series on the OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) channel but reading the book I got more acquainted with the characters. I was moved by how Charley Bordelon, Ralph Angel, Violet, Miss Honey, Micah and Hollywood all mirror my family.
It took Natalie Baszile ten years to pen Queen Sugar and it shows. Her fellow author Krys Lee praised Baszile, calling the novel “an accomplished, confident narrative that announces the arrival of a writer to watch”.
The story is centred on the stoic single mother and widow, Charley, who relocates from Los Angeles to the modest small town of Louisiana, after she inherits eight hundred acres of a sugar cane farm from her deceased father.
Her return home awakens a tidal wave of family conflicts and sees her face off with her long lost half brother, Ralph Angel. As she tries to start over, raise her daughter and deal with her troubled half-brother, she also learns that sugar cane farming is no place for a black woman.
The characters are faced with the heavy task of repairing broken family ties, and while trying to assist Charley resuscitates her father’s sugar cane farm. As the pressures of running a farm threaten to break them, they find solace in each other and their close-knit community.
Natalie’s writing is so vivid and she possesses a rare gift of bringing every character’s story to life without derailing the narrative. She also provides a sterling in-depth look at the sugar cane farming world and still manages to lock you in as a reader.
Overall, Queen Sugar is an important book about family and moving forward against all odds – reminding us that home is where the real healing happens.
If you watched the series don’t be alarmed. TV has taken its standard license with Baszile’s material, and the book is so different that at times it seems completely foreign to the series. All the better: more story to go around.
— Review by Thanduxolo Buti