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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Based on historical documents and Eliza Lucas' own letters, this is a historical fiction account of how young Eliza Lucas produced indigo dye, which became one of South Carolina's largest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

Average Customer Ratings
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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!!

58 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.

44 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.

31 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.

19 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...

15 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...

15 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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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.

9 people found this helpful

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amazing

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

12 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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  • A K Thornewell
  • 05-20-22

Good story

This is based on a true story and is well written., with good characterisation. It really makes you consider the position of both women and negro slaves in the 18thC. Eliza is a remarkable young woman battling with convention. Generally the narration is good, but I think I would have preferred an actual Brit reading. Saskia is very clear, and manages to voice the different characters well, but she has a slight antipodean twang which I had to decide to ignore. I enjoyed it, though.

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  • Chris Terblanche
  • 05-17-22

Brilliant!

I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book. I knew I liked the plot and main character from the synopsis(and the cover is stunning so yes, I picked it).
I wasn't really sure where the story was going or how worldly it was gonna get, which was a bit of a concern. There were a few situations that could have gone too far, but I was relieved at how well they were handled.
I loved the characters and their relationships. Elisa made a great strong female lead. Polly especially made me smile, along with Essie.
The plot was great and I was very happy with the ending. Even more so when I realized most of it was based on true events and people.
The attention to detail made me feel as if I too were experiencing life on one of the plantaions, and the indigo process was fascinating, truly.
Lastly, Saskia Maarleveld performed this story to absolute perfection. She makes Elisa and all the other characters come to life.
I would definitely recommend this masterpiece to anyone and everyone.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-12-22

STUNNING

A truly beautiful book. Beautifully written and beautifully told. Thank you for this wonderful treasure.

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  • maggie tomlins
  • 05-05-22

A beautifully written book

I loved every minute of this book. I was thrilled to discover that the book is based on true facts. I listened to this book on Audible - the narrator did a great job and helped enormously in my enjoyment of the book.
I highly recommend this book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-27-22

Read with an open mind!

I read a few of the previous reviews so had an understanding that there were comments regarding the practice of slavery in this era - part of historical fact and this author decided to give the some of the main characters of the book a more balanced relationship in this context. However, the story of indigo production in South Carolina is fascinating and based on fact and left me in awe of what this woman achieved at a young age.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-25-22

Uplifting and lovely Historical story ! 🤗

I loved this Historic novel a real journey of this incredible young lady fiction and real detail at its finest whom until you listen to this story you may have not heard of the incredible journey of Indigo ! credit to the Author and also to the Narator for bringing this story to life found it hard to put this book down !

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-17-22

A Fascinating Story

I stumbled upon this book after looking for more titles by the author. I heartily recommend it.

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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!