Fourteen years after the end of slavery, Lord Henry Hardin and his wife, Lady Bertha, enjoy an entitled life in Union County, Arkansas. Until he faces a devastating reality: Bertha is unable to bear children. If Henry doesn’t produce an heir, the American branch of his family name will die out. So Henry, desperate to preserve his aristocratic family lineage, does the unthinkable.
When Salome, a former slave and Henry’s mistress, gives birth to a white-skinned, blue-eyed daughter, Henry orders a reluctant Lady Bertha to claim the child as their own…allowing young Margaret to pass into the white world of privilege.
As Margaret grows older, unaware of her true parentage, devastating circumstances threaten to shroud her in pain and shame…but then, ultimately, in revelation. Despite rumors about Margaret’s true identity, Salome is determined to transform her daughter’s bitter past into her secure future while Henry goes to extraordinary lengths to protect his legacy. Spanning decades and generations, marked by tragedy and redemption, this unforgettable saga illuminates a family’s fight for their name, for survival, and for true freedom.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Francine Thomas Howard is the author of Page from a Tennessee Journal and Paris Noire. Exploring the multicultural legacy of African-descended people throughout the diaspora, her stories reflect her own African, European, and Native American heritage. Originally from Illinois, Howard earned a BA in occupational therapy from San José State and an MPA from the University of San Francisco. She left a rewarding career in pediatric occupational therapy to pursue another love, writing. Desiring to preserve the remarkable oral histories of her family tree, she began writing down those stories with little thought to publication. That all changed when she turned a family secret about her grandmother and grandfathers into Page from a Tennessee Journal. Howard submitted the novel to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and now publishes with Lake Union Publishing.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Daughter of Union County" is one of those books that I was beyond excited to read. The title, book cover, and the blurb really caught my attention. Little did I realize when I started reading that this book would be a struggle to finish and (even though the author admitted this to be a work of historical fiction) full of historical fallacies. Taking place in Union County, Arkansas, the story recounts the legacy of Lord Henry Hardin, Duke of Union County and the only woman he has ever loved, Salome. The young and unfortunate Salome, daughter of a slave woman, has no choice when Henry Hardin makes her his mistress. From their union springs forth a new dynasty of aristocratic Hardins: Margaret, Waylon, and Thomas (called Tom-Tom). While the Civil War and Reconstruction are over, the truth is that not much has changed in Union County. The African American inhabitants are constantly dehumanized and trodden underfoot by the wealthier Caucasian inhabitants as was the case in the days of the Antebellum South. Since Henry Hardin’s wife, Lady Bertha has failed to give him a much-desired heir, he is overjoyed when a daughter with pale white skin and blue eyes is born to Salome. He commands his wife to accept the new baby girl, called Margaret, as her daughter. It is this moment that irrevocably changes the lives of everyone, setting off a chain of events that will forever alter the Hardin family. With this cruel charade, he denies Salome her daughter and forces Bertha to raise Margaret as her daughter, beating her when she doesn’t obey. Even though I found Francine Thomas Howard’s plot to certainly be unique, it bordered on the mythological. In order for one to fully appreciate this work, one has to suspend belief in reality. It was difficult for me to reconcile the fact that Henry Hardin was the “Duke of Union County”, Bertha Hardin was “Lady Bertha”, and that James Hardin was “Duke of Maryland.” Ms. Howard admittedly stated that she took creative license but America did fight a Revolutionary War against Great Britain and we do not have a peerage system in this country. The flow of the story was steady for the most part but did have its moments where it was slow and I confess that I skimmed forward pages. Not something I ever like to do if I can help it. The characterization was lacking in such a way that I found it difficult to connect emotionally with most of the characters. For the most part, the characters came across as flat characters and somewhat stereotypical. For example, Henry was the abusive patriarchal husband who beat his wife and loved another woman. In regards to the unfortunate Salome (who I would have loved to see plunge a dagger into Henry Hardin’s back), I had genuine sympathy for her but she frustrated me. It would have been nice to see her stand up to Henry. Maybe that is something that I, as a 21st century female, enjoy seeing in films, television, and literature. The tone and atmosphere was dark and depressing which, considering the main characters and the time in which they lived, it isn’t too surprising. While conceptually "Daughter of Union County" was an intriguing idea, I feel it fell short in the execution. That is unfortunate because I really wanted to like this book. Reviewed by the Merry Wife of Windsor.
It is 1879 and Lord Henry Hardin of Union County, Arkansas awaits the birth his child. However, the mother is not Lady Bertha who is unable to bear children, but instead is Salome, a former slave. Lord Henry is determined that his family name will be continued so he takes the white-skinned, blue-eyed female child from Salome to be raised as his and Bertha’s child – a white child. Thus Margaret, child of a former slave is raised as a Southern lady granted all the privileges of a wealthy white family. Over the years Henry and Salome manage to maintain their secret. However, at some point secrets always come out. And the consequences are life-changing to many of the characters. The story spans the years of 1879 to 1942, thus revealing the consequences of Henry and Salome’s secret through the generations. There are quite a few reviews on this book lamenting its racism and violence toward women. But that is how it was in those days. We can’t rewrite history but we can learn how it was and not repeat those atrocities. This is a story of family – good or bad. Through all the turmoils and struggles, the strength of the family endures. They showed how much could be accomplished as a united family than could have been accomplished as individuals. And there were true “laugh-out-loud” moments, as there are in all families. The characters were so well developed I felt as though I knew them. I laughed with them, grieved with them, and celebrated with them.