Island Beneath the Sea
Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, ZaritÉ -- known as TÉtÉ -- is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, TÉtÉ finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.
When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it’s with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father’s plantation, Saint Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride -- but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.
Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of TÉtÉ and Valmorain, and of one woman’s determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.
Set in late eighteenth century Haiti, the story is based around the life of a mulatto slave and her complicated relationship with her master who is a French-born sugar plantation owner. Her “true” love is a slave who runs away from the plantation and later becomes a leader in an uprising that changes the political climate of the country. The master flees Haiti and takes her child (who he fathered) to the safety of New Orleans. She leaves Haiti and follows him for the sake of her child.
I love a novel that transports me to another time and place so that I can experience an interesting and important time in history. This author tells a story that is both compelling and historically enlightening.
-- by Denise W.