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Publisher's Summary

The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is 16-years-old when her father leaves her in charge of their family's three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are becoming restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon, their family is in danger of losing everything.

Hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it's the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it's impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds her only allies in an aging horticulturalist, an older gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate, thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and, in return - against the laws of the day - she will teach the slaves to read.

So begins an incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Based on historical documents and Eliza Lucas' own letters, this is a historical fiction account of how young Eliza Lucas produced indigo dye, which became one of South Carolina's largest exports, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of the South. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington, at his own request, served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

This book is set between the years 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were far ahead of their time.

©2017 Natasha Boyd (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Maarleveld characterizes Eliza so well that listeners will feel they know her, and understand her complex emotions and struggles to succeed in a man’s world. Her excellent reading enlivens a large cast…Pacing is spot on.” - Booklist

“….fully transports the listener to a different time and place.” - AudioFile

What listeners say about The Indigo Girl

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You must read The Indigo Girl

This book was really incredible! I️ live in the area it is based upon, and this book has greatly increased my curiosity of the early history of the area. The author brought the characters to life in such a beautiful way!! I️ felt like I️ went back in time to that era. Her descriptions of the landscape and the plantation life was so interesting. I️ would love to see this book made into a major motion picture!!! It would rival “Gone With The Wind” I️ can’t wait to listen to it again!!! I️ was so sorry for it to end!!

60 people found this helpful

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My Best “Read”

Since my vision is deteriorating, I have turned to audibles selections to enjoy literature. The Indigo Girl was wonderfully entertaining and enlightening as to the history of Charleston, one of my favorite areas. That said, the author created a story based on fact and allowed a look at the role of women of the time period. The loves of Eliza, the difficulty of some plantation owners who respected and cared for their slaves, the disrespect for intelligent resourceful women held by many.. even other women of the time period. All woven together into a story that will challenge you to hold onto your emotions. The reader interprets the writing superbly and I will look for other stories that she performs. I so obviously recommend this novel.

46 people found this helpful

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Not so much on history. Long on romance blather.

At first I thought the subject matter was going to be more on history as the summary states. It unfortunately was as more like 'gazing into his limpid pools" type novel with a weird over use of romance novel adjectives. ..rewritten PC history of the colonial south.

32 people found this helpful

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Makes me want to play with Indigo!

This was such an enjoyable book. I loved learning more about the life of Eliza Lucas and her accomplishments. Such an amazing story. I wish there was more written about the lives of the slaves who passed on their knowledge and magic. (Not here in this book, but in general. It's not easy to find information about the people who helped Eliza with the indigo in real life.) I plan to travel to SC this summer to attend an indigo workshop and learn more about the plant Eliza loved.

20 people found this helpful

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Master and Slaves

The story is based on letters of a real and celebrated woman who brought indigo to the south. Though she was a product of her time and in many ways a progressive woman, she was still just another person who built her life and fortune on the backs of enslaved people. This is nothing to celebrate or admire. All her hand wringing about her friendship with the black slave Ben does not mitigate what she was.

No redeeming quality to the story of her life...

18 people found this helpful

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Amazing! Perfect to listen to on walks.

such a fascinating novel about a fascination woman. Eliza Lucas (later Pinkney) is a woman who should be mentioned in history texts. Her story of strength, intelligence, ambition, and more, were uncommon for women at this time. Everywhere she went, both men and women attempted to "put her in her place", but she refuses to just sit down and let life happen to her...she wants to be a part of everything, and through the cultivation of indigo, she find s her purpose. I love how much of the book is historically accurate, and that her actual letters were used. I 100% recommend this novel...

17 people found this helpful

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amazing

highly recommend. very intuitive historical embellishment of the truth. a story to get lost in.

13 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Story

The Indigo Girl is an amazing story! Having just been in the Charleston area made it even better. The story, history, and narration make this one of my all time favorite books. Hope you enjoy it as well.

10 people found this helpful

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Enjoyed the Narration, Story - less so

The story dragged on a bit and felt a bit predictable at certain points. I still finished the story through. It was just a lackluster experience. I did particularly enjoy the narrator and the use of rich vocabulary through the book.

9 people found this helpful

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I wish the opening and ending were flipped

I read this for my book club. The opening gave too much away for me and the ending was something I wish I read at beginning. My girlfriends loved the book but it wasn’t my favorite to be honest. I think if my reco on the beginning and ending were a reality I think I would probably have loved the book...

9 people found this helpful

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  • Lyn
  • 08-29-21

Couldn’t stomach the ‘good’ girl idea

It maybe the context of BLM but I found it difficult to stomach a story about a ‘good white girl’ who of course wouldn’t be cruel to her black slaves, the plantation owner being blameless - apart from the fact that the cruel overseers were employed by them. I didn’t read the whole book so maybe I would have become more convinced had I continued. I just found it hard to stomach.

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  • Camilla Isaksen
  • 12-13-21

A parody of white girl privilege

I cannot believe that this book is so tone-deaf and not an SNL sketch. The white saviour protagonist (slave owner) cannot seem to understand that the black man she has a crush on wants nothing to do with her because HE DOESN'T WANT TO DIE. Also, several times says that the slaves have more freedom than her because she is a woman. It's so unbelievably unaware and self-pitying it truly seems like the worst example of white girl privilege. It's a real shame because Eliza Lucas seems like a very interesting person and a great topic for historical fiction.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-26-18

Slow and Unbelievable

Book was slow and concentrated too much on tenuous imagined relationships. I realise historical fiction requires the author to fill in, but felt that, for example, in the relationship with Ben, the author imagined too much and too far using the sensibilities of a 21st Century mind - not using what should have been an 18th century mind. The author then scampered over much of the rest of her life in a frustrating epilogue! All in all it fell between two stools - neither being a rounded fictional novel, nor achieving historical accuracy despite claims to have used words from collected letters.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Zenith
  • 08-18-22

some issues

At least I learnt about a part of history I didn't know. I appreciated the author's aim to give voice to a young enterprising girl that proved to be important for the development of South Carolina. (I didn't know it was based on a true story till a third of the way through)

*spoilers to follow*

However, I didn't feel too drawn to the protagonist. I found her annoying, unfortunately. She did have to overcome many obstacles as a young unmarried woman at the time but ultimately she and her family were slave holders, and from a privileged white family. Though the only view we were given of her was that she was a merciful benign white girl. No exploration into what her own privilege and position was compared to the slaves she owned.

Really, the lives that she owned are the ones who gave her the knowledge of indigo making process, physical work and ultimately made her and South Carolina wealthy. Although she struck a deal to teach them to read, did they really have a choice? It was their knowledge, physical work that made her successful, wealthy as well as the rest of the land. And only one of them was given their freedom.

How differently wealth would have been distributed if these knowledgeable humans had had freedom.

What would have made this book more compelling was to hear the voices of those humans owned, silenced for all of history and how they carried this priceless knowledge, what did they feel giving it up to their white mistress?

It would have also been great to hear more history about the indigo plant, who found its properties, how did it get to the islands? How was the knowledge of its process passed on.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-13-22

shocked

it's one thing to have old books from the time but to put pen to paper to romantise that part of history in this day and age is hideous and just ignore the evil of all the was done . shocking and angry

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  • Mrs Annie Samuels
  • 08-04-22

What a joyous read

Full of every emotion. A story that grabs you chapter after chapter. Loved it right to the end.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-18-22

a beautifully written novel

bringing to life the struggles and feelings of people in a very difficult and constraining time, beautifully written. A very good read!!

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  • Julie.
  • 06-25-22

brilliant

this book was recommended to me by my daughter, one of the best books I have listened to

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gundi ann
  • 06-13-22

Easy listening

Enjoyed listening to this story. Narrated well. Will look for other books by the same author.

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  • Nadia H.
  • 05-25-22

amazing book

One of the best books I ever read! I will be now looking for more books on the samw subject.

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  • Sarah
  • 09-28-22

Fascinating insight into a previously almost hidden historical figure.

I loved how gripping, well-drawn and fascinating this book is. Kudos to the author for what is clearly well-researched novel and am so grateful I was able to learn about the characters (some of whom were real historical figures), the time and the indigo industry and it’s impact. I also appreciated the suggested further reading.

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  • Sandie E
  • 08-16-22

Brilliant

Thoroughly enjoyed every historical element of this book, including the Fabulous narration! A great listen 🙂

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  • Prufrock
  • 08-07-22

History undermined by saccharine romance

Eliza Lucas deserves better than what morphs from historical fiction into truly clichéd romance. The villains are the stuff of pantomime and the romantic heroes seem more fitting for a Harlequin romance. Why is it that women can’t be celebrated for their achievements unless they are also the love interest of cardboard cutout men?

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  • Fangman
  • 07-23-22

Excellent Read!

Having chosen this book randomly as an included Audible book, with the idea that I could discard it if I didn’t like it, I was so happy with the result. I’m a fan of historical fiction and this book, based on true events, ticked all the boxes. It had history, anti-slavery, feminism, a love theme and determination. The Audible rendition was great, the story line, intonations and accents. I highly recommend it.

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  • Angela Atkins
  • 07-07-22

Entertaining and educational.

I really enjoyed this story, more than I thought I would. Eliza was a well rounded relatable character. Interesting story line, more so because this was based on a real life person and her remarkable life.

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  • Lunagirl
  • 06-16-22

Loved it

Beautifully written and compelling to listen to. Made even more so when I discovered this is based on a true story. Eliza is an inspiration to me, thanks to Natasha Boyd bringing her story to life. Thank you!

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  • Dawn Winter
  • 05-30-22

Thoroughly enjoyable

I loved this book. It had me engrossed from start to finish. I highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-29-22

Fascinating story

Had no idea about this amazing woman and the story is just even more compelling because she was real. Performance was brilliant. Story is gold…or should I say indigo!