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“Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …” The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that “Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …” The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household. The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest and the appearance of Jesse and Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed and destroy the lives of the rest of the servants. Bernice walks the fine line between emissary and accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, and no one will come out unscathed. With a dazzling voice and rich emotional tension, Pale explores the ties that bind and how quickly humanity can fade and return us to primal ways.


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“Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …” The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that “Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …” The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household. The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest and the appearance of Jesse and Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed and destroy the lives of the rest of the servants. Bernice walks the fine line between emissary and accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, and no one will come out unscathed. With a dazzling voice and rich emotional tension, Pale explores the ties that bind and how quickly humanity can fade and return us to primal ways.

30 review for Pale

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 Pain, revenge and rascism. It is the 1960s, and Bernice, a black woman whose husband has disappears, joins her brother to serve on the Kerns cotton plantation. In Mississippi, though slavery is no more, blacks are anything but equal. All is not well on the plantation, strained relationships, secrets and insidious plots of revenge plague the characters. Though they are considered servants, are they in charge of their own destiny or is servitude just another name for slavery? A debut novel, wel 3.5 Pain, revenge and rascism. It is the 1960s, and Bernice, a black woman whose husband has disappears, joins her brother to serve on the Kerns cotton plantation. In Mississippi, though slavery is no more, blacks are anything but equal. All is not well on the plantation, strained relationships, secrets and insidious plots of revenge plague the characters. Though they are considered servants, are they in charge of their own destiny or is servitude just another name for slavery? A debut novel, well written and showing us a different time period and how little by that time had been gained. There are other ways to apply chains as this book shows, and though free choices are still narrow. The characters are each very different, have different motivations, but there lives are tangled together by circumstances beyond their control. At least for the most part. The Kern plantation is not a happy place and secrets are revealed to the very end. A slower paced book but an interesting read set in a time period in the deep South that hasn't been widely written. At least I haven't read many. The ending was perfect, in my view. ARC from Edelweiss.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jaidee

    4 "psychologically and culturally complex" stars !! Thank you to the author, Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an e-copy. I am providing my honest review. This novel was released May 2020. I want to start off by saying that I feel that Mr. Farmer has the absolute potential to be one of America's finest writers. This is a debut that although excellent gives hints that the genius and beauty that lay within Mr. Farmer as he further refines and advances his artistry. 1960s rural Mississippi. M 4 "psychologically and culturally complex" stars !! Thank you to the author, Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an e-copy. I am providing my honest review. This novel was released May 2020. I want to start off by saying that I feel that Mr. Farmer has the absolute potential to be one of America's finest writers. This is a debut that although excellent gives hints that the genius and beauty that lay within Mr. Farmer as he further refines and advances his artistry. 1960s rural Mississippi. Ms. Bernie has been abandoned by her beloved husband and goes to work on a plantation to work with her brother. Through Bernie's eyes we watch a complex family tragedy unfold where race, colorism, class and gender intermix in a sophisticated yet cruel fashion to create a dark family saga that holds all players hostage and in a great deal of psychic pain. The writing is lush and descriptive and you can feel the oppression of the summer heat and the desolation and emptiness of the Southern winters. The house is decaying, the characters are both scheming and surviving and underneath it all lays an ugly loyalty, changes in alliances and a darkness in the souls of all that live and work on the cotton plantation that carries forth from generation to generation. I do not know when I have been as excited in a new writers' potential as I know as excellent as this first novel is that Mr. Farmer has only just begun.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andres Ocon

    The language in this book is very descriptive, offering a tender look at individuals working in a house on a plantation in Mississippi. Edward A. Farmer describes things poetically, paying close attention to the environment as much as he does the characters. He makes objects like the house and cicada trees feel like characters in the story. Each person in the book goes through major transformations over the course of the story, with some showing growth and others deteriorating just like the hous The language in this book is very descriptive, offering a tender look at individuals working in a house on a plantation in Mississippi. Edward A. Farmer describes things poetically, paying close attention to the environment as much as he does the characters. He makes objects like the house and cicada trees feel like characters in the story. Each person in the book goes through major transformations over the course of the story, with some showing growth and others deteriorating just like the house they live in. But even the supposed antagonists are described with fairness and affection, despite their faults. There are themes of vengeance, power, circumstance, and family dynamics that make this a fascinating character study. It's partly a coming of age story and partly a tragedy about racial tension on a plantation. The style of writing is as entertaining as the narrative that plays out. Highly recommended!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Edward Farmer's engrossing debut, Pale, begins in 1966 in the burning heat of Mississippi, when Bernice, whose husband left with all their savings and didn't return, accepts her brothers invitation to join him in working on a cotton plantation. She is slowly immersed into a household full of secrets, deception, revenge, and downright cruelty, which revolves around two young brothers who come to work on the plantation. One becomes a pawn to enact revenge, and the other is mistreated, lied to, and Edward Farmer's engrossing debut, Pale, begins in 1966 in the burning heat of Mississippi, when Bernice, whose husband left with all their savings and didn't return, accepts her brothers invitation to join him in working on a cotton plantation. She is slowly immersed into a household full of secrets, deception, revenge, and downright cruelty, which revolves around two young brothers who come to work on the plantation. One becomes a pawn to enact revenge, and the other is mistreated, lied to, and trapped by the choices of others. As the story slowly unfolds, we see that for some, there is a perceived thin line between servant and slave, and how revengeful choices can define and change lives through generations. People who like novels set in the south, will love the author’s rich descriptions of rural Mississippi, including the cotton fields, jacaranda, cicadas, and pestering summer heat. What a great debut! Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mom_Loves_Reading

    Farmer is such a very talented storyteller & writer, it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. "Pale" slowly builds tension & suspense with its complex, riveting & emotionally engaging prose. Family secrets, betrayal, lies & a woman hellbent on vindication & revenge, no matter who gets hurt on the way. . "Pale" is powerful, gritty, atmospheric & utterly gripping from start to finish. Farmer is definitely a writer that we can expect more great stories from in the future. Kudos on this debut Farmer is such a very talented storyteller & writer, it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. "Pale" slowly builds tension & suspense with its complex, riveting & emotionally engaging prose. Family secrets, betrayal, lies & a woman hellbent on vindication & revenge, no matter who gets hurt on the way. . "Pale" is powerful, gritty, atmospheric & utterly gripping from start to finish. Farmer is definitely a writer that we can expect more great stories from in the future. Kudos on this debut! "Pale" is available now, so add it to your TBR list & get it from your local indie bookseller today!

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Wade

    Stunning debut from a sure-to-be prolific, young voice!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trinidad Cisneros

    Contrary to the meaning of this book's title, "Pale" is anything but lacking in color, or depth. Instead, it's a rich exploration of unresolved trauma, family, brokenness, and somewhere deep within that intersectionality, hope. This story takes place in the 1960s, in the rural back country of Mississippi, where the young jilted Bernice takes employment at a plantation her brother works. It is in this beautifully described space that Bernice bears witness to the aftermass of unfettered grief, uns Contrary to the meaning of this book's title, "Pale" is anything but lacking in color, or depth. Instead, it's a rich exploration of unresolved trauma, family, brokenness, and somewhere deep within that intersectionality, hope. This story takes place in the 1960s, in the rural back country of Mississippi, where the young jilted Bernice takes employment at a plantation her brother works. It is in this beautifully described space that Bernice bears witness to the aftermass of unfettered grief, unspoken love, and a witness to the chain reaction trauma can cause. Because as the author may argue, unresolved issues will not only break a person, but it will also drive them to break others. In many ways, this story is the story of so many Americans, and it's a tragic reminder that trauma echos across generations, creating one sad story, only to reincarnate in another... until this chain reaction is broken, and if you asked Bernice, she would probably agree that as heavy as a chain might feel, it should never lock you down. This book certainly has weight, but the author has such a graceful way of recounting this story that it's half poetry, and half plot, and 100% worth your read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joy Perry

    Written very poetically, this debut by Edward A. Farmer, is a winner! The story begins in 1966 when Bernie moves to a Mississippi plantation where her brother Floyd works: The Kern plantation. Another woman, Silva works there as well and brings her two young sons Fletcher and Jesse to work there one summer. Thereby really begins the story of the Kerns and the workers and families. This book is very well written and i literally read it through from beginning to end with little room to eat and sle Written very poetically, this debut by Edward A. Farmer, is a winner! The story begins in 1966 when Bernie moves to a Mississippi plantation where her brother Floyd works: The Kern plantation. Another woman, Silva works there as well and brings her two young sons Fletcher and Jesse to work there one summer. Thereby really begins the story of the Kerns and the workers and families. This book is very well written and i literally read it through from beginning to end with little room to eat and sleep. I could not put it down. I went thru a gauntlet of feelings while reading this engrossing tale of family, love, betrayal and death. I highly recommend this book. Thanks to Edelweiss, the author, and the publisher for an advanced review copy of this treasure in exchange for my honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill Silva

    I'm sorry to say that this debut novel was just not very engaging or compelling enough to recommend with more than two stars ("it was ok"). The plot, such as it is, moves very slowly, and the characters are mostly one-dimensional, with their actions and motivations obscure and unexplained. The writing alternately aims at lyricism or moody drama--but here again the author's reach unfortunately exceeds his grasp. Given my expectations based on the published description, this was a disappointment. I'm sorry to say that this debut novel was just not very engaging or compelling enough to recommend with more than two stars ("it was ok"). The plot, such as it is, moves very slowly, and the characters are mostly one-dimensional, with their actions and motivations obscure and unexplained. The writing alternately aims at lyricism or moody drama--but here again the author's reach unfortunately exceeds his grasp. Given my expectations based on the published description, this was a disappointment.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    This book started off so beautifully, that I thought I'd be giving it five stars. Set in post-Jim Crow Mississippi, yet conditions were clearly dependent on one's race, unfortunately, I felt that the story dragged and went no where. However, it's clear this writer is talented and I look forward to reading his next book. This book started off so beautifully, that I thought I'd be giving it five stars. Set in post-Jim Crow Mississippi, yet conditions were clearly dependent on one's race, unfortunately, I felt that the story dragged and went no where. However, it's clear this writer is talented and I look forward to reading his next book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liza Taylor

    Farmer's language is so lyrical and evocative, I found myself floating along through Bernice's story as if in a dream. I was amazed to hear Farmer say that he wrote the book in 30 days. Bernice is a true observer of the lives around her, and though we don't get to know a lot about her, ultimately, her view of the Kern family dynamics is singularly clear and deeply wise. A beautiful debut novel. Farmer's language is so lyrical and evocative, I found myself floating along through Bernice's story as if in a dream. I was amazed to hear Farmer say that he wrote the book in 30 days. Bernice is a true observer of the lives around her, and though we don't get to know a lot about her, ultimately, her view of the Kern family dynamics is singularly clear and deeply wise. A beautiful debut novel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    If only this novel was, oh I don’t know, a third as exciting as its official description made it sound. But no, it plodded on with all the oppressive tedium of Mississippian summer and moved with all the speed of a southern drawl. The thing is the description isn’t by any means inaccurate, it’s just that it’s the best possible reader’s digest version of events. In real time as the story unfolds on the pages, it’s a slog and a drag of a moral morass. With a strong wtf undercurrent. Set over a cen If only this novel was, oh I don’t know, a third as exciting as its official description made it sound. But no, it plodded on with all the oppressive tedium of Mississippian summer and moved with all the speed of a southern drawl. The thing is the description isn’t by any means inaccurate, it’s just that it’s the best possible reader’s digest version of events. In real time as the story unfolds on the pages, it’s a slog and a drag of a moral morass. With a strong wtf undercurrent. Set over a century after US abolished slavery, it somehow reads so dated, almost like all those years have never come to pass. And I know the South is backwards and racist and slow to change, but this was too much even by those low standards. In fact, when modernity peeks through, a car drives by or something, you might get a cognitive whiplash of…when are we again. 1966 to start with is the answer and yet this novel is taking place on a cotton plantation in Mississippi and dealing with racial, social and familial complications of the servant/master dynamic like it’s some alternative Antebellum situation. It may well be historically accurate, but in that case, again, wtf. All those years of struggle to gain independence and continue to work the cotton fields and tend estates for masters? Why? Doesn’t it in many ways negate the tragic battles for rights in the years past? Sure, these workers get paid for their labor and can theoretically come and go as they please, but the general mentality of servitude and the slavish dedication seems terribly antiquated at the very least. And so it is against these conditions and these settings that the Greek drama of fathers and sons of Pale plays out. Meet the players. Mr. Kern and the Missus, the plantation owners. One shared child, dead at age 3. One alive unacknowledged but obvious (as in pale) son named Fletcher that Mr. Kern shares with their servant Silva. Jesse, Silva’s other son from her actual marriage. Floyd, employed by the Kerns for heavy duty work. Last but not least, Bernice, the narrator, Floyd’s sister, who deals with spousal abandonment by coming to work for Kerns. Over the years of her service, Bernice will witness the already toxic situation go from simmer to boil over, mostly with resentment, with Missus hating Fletcher and Silva hating both Kerns to different extents and Fletcher coming to hate both Kerns to different extent after finally learning his lineage. It’s all decently written, though somewhat overwrought, and it all somehow gets wilted, like cotton plants left unattended in the sun. In fact, it’s kind of difficult to put into words why this novel doesn’t work or, to be more precise, didn’t work for me, because technically it’s seemingly well put together. It has a cohesive coherent narrative of generations of love and spite, dark past replaying itself over and over from those who refuse to learn their lessons. It has a lot of correct ingredients, but not of the spices and the result is lamentably flat and flavorless. Not to overuse the Southern thing, but the general atmosphere of this book reminded me of the oppressively hot summer day’s inspired stupor. Maybe it’s the characters…didn’t especially like or care about any of them, didn’t understand most of their motivations. The author explains and explains, but it seems like they’ve all just talked into a sort of Calvinistic resignation of their roles in life and gave up any sort of autonomy or agency over their actions. In this way they can proceed being sh*tty to each other without too many moral qualms, it seems. Completist by nature, I finish all the books I start, but this one was a challenge to get through, despite its relative slimness. Seriously, watching clouds in a still sky of a wind free day is more dynamic that this book. So yeah, as you can probably tell by now, didn’t do it for me. Then again, in this day and age it’s racial themes alone would guarantee it some praises and attention. So you can decide for yourself, though I would advise against it. Why waste your time on books that pale in comparison to all the really great reads out there.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Glenda Nelms

    Descriptive, Emotionally gripping debut novel. Pale is about two families living on a cotton plantation in 1960's Mississippi. Secrets and the past catch up with both families. Bernice joins her brother Floyd on the plantation because her husband abandoned her, she serves as nursemaid and servant to Missus Lula. Missus Lula plots revenge on her husband George and Silva, the cook of the house due to a shared secret. Miss Lula used Jesse and Fletcher, Silva's sons to get involved in this shocking Descriptive, Emotionally gripping debut novel. Pale is about two families living on a cotton plantation in 1960's Mississippi. Secrets and the past catch up with both families. Bernice joins her brother Floyd on the plantation because her husband abandoned her, she serves as nursemaid and servant to Missus Lula. Missus Lula plots revenge on her husband George and Silva, the cook of the house due to a shared secret. Miss Lula used Jesse and Fletcher, Silva's sons to get involved in this shocking act when they return to the plantation for work. The main themes are racism, loyalty and revenge.

  14. 4 out of 5

    O Prism

    This is an engaging debut novel set in the summer of 1966 Mississippi. Bernice takes a job with a white family on the advice of her brother. The house is not a happy one, and the “Missus” is a petty, vindictive woman out for revenge on most anyone who looks at her wrong. Secrets, lies and betrayal run rampant within and outside of the house, between men and women who should by all accounts get along with one another. There was a constant tension running through the characters while reading, and This is an engaging debut novel set in the summer of 1966 Mississippi. Bernice takes a job with a white family on the advice of her brother. The house is not a happy one, and the “Missus” is a petty, vindictive woman out for revenge on most anyone who looks at her wrong. Secrets, lies and betrayal run rampant within and outside of the house, between men and women who should by all accounts get along with one another. There was a constant tension running through the characters while reading, and I was expecting something very bad to happen. The bad was a series of minor events that became major ones. I have some difficulty describing the story; there were many characters, a lot of racism and winding threads that sometimes made it hard to follow. Nothing horrible happened, it’s more a cautionary tale of who do you trust, and to trust no one. There was so much back-stabbing and treachery it was a little depressing, albeit a fascinating look at human dynamics, and how different people thrown together under similar circumstances react and overreact. I was a bit confused by the timeline and setting; I thought this was a more likely scenario 10 years earlier or more. However, I grew up in GA, not MS. Overall it was an intriguing read, and I look forward to reading more from this author. Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    ☄k.c.☄

    This really was not what I expected. The synopsis (Bernice, a black woman whose brother doesn't like that she lives alone, takes a job as a servant to a white family who owns a cotton plantation in 1966 where she "she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.") is fairly straight forward. And yet it really did not do what I thought it might. It didn't move as fast, or was as tense, as I thought it would be. I feel like the character work and the general wri This really was not what I expected. The synopsis (Bernice, a black woman whose brother doesn't like that she lives alone, takes a job as a servant to a white family who owns a cotton plantation in 1966 where she "she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.") is fairly straight forward. And yet it really did not do what I thought it might. It didn't move as fast, or was as tense, as I thought it would be. I feel like the character work and the general writing is really well done, but there are certain creative decisions that the author made that I just do not enjoy in stories like this. The fact that it takes place over a long period of time (in a very vague and unspecific way, which made parts a little confusing), that a lot of the medical problems that characters face are also vague and unspecific (which might be accurate to the medical knowledge at the time, I'm not sure) and that it moves at an incredibly slow pace, all made this book feel so much longer that it actually is. I feel like this could be a great read for people who enjoy slower moving historical fiction though!

  16. 5 out of 5

    SUE HOBSON

    I'm feeling a bit conflicted about this book. It is the story of Bernice whose husband leaves with all of her savings and does not return or call for her to come meet him. Bernice decides to move to Mississippi to live with her brother to work on a cotton plantation. The missus in the story is deception and vindictive. A story of family, lies and secrets hid. Love the authors description, I could picture the story in my head so vividly. My only conflict, that it was a story that left me feeling I'm feeling a bit conflicted about this book. It is the story of Bernice whose husband leaves with all of her savings and does not return or call for her to come meet him. Bernice decides to move to Mississippi to live with her brother to work on a cotton plantation. The missus in the story is deception and vindictive. A story of family, lies and secrets hid. Love the authors description, I could picture the story in my head so vividly. My only conflict, that it was a story that left me feeling a bit depressed. A sad story in general, not one to read if your feeling down already. Otherwise, written beautifully and a great debut book by Edward A Farmer. Thank you to Netgalley for ebook in exchange for my honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denice Langley

    An engrossing story that builds slowly as it pulls you into the middle of a class/ race battle lived in a short period of time in Mississippi. Edward Farmer writes as if he lived the story. He introduces us to a cross section of southern characters just trying to survive in a climate when times were changing very slowly and not always in a good way. As the wife of the owner of a cotton plantation sets in motion a series of events meant to ease her pride and soothe her wounds, the tension builds An engrossing story that builds slowly as it pulls you into the middle of a class/ race battle lived in a short period of time in Mississippi. Edward Farmer writes as if he lived the story. He introduces us to a cross section of southern characters just trying to survive in a climate when times were changing very slowly and not always in a good way. As the wife of the owner of a cotton plantation sets in motion a series of events meant to ease her pride and soothe her wounds, the tension builds slowly until the explosion blows apart the expectations of every member of this cast. DO NOT try to read this book a little bit at a time. Once you start, you will not want to stop.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Annie Bomke

    I absolutely loved this book!  It had me riveted from the first page.  The writing is gorgeous, and the sense of place is so immersive.  You really feel the oppressiveness of the heat, the tedium of farm life, the isolation of the plantation and how trapped the characters are.  It's a deeply psychological book about race, power and what it means to belong.  Edward Farmer is a fierce new talent. I absolutely loved this book!  It had me riveted from the first page.  The writing is gorgeous, and the sense of place is so immersive.  You really feel the oppressiveness of the heat, the tedium of farm life, the isolation of the plantation and how trapped the characters are.  It's a deeply psychological book about race, power and what it means to belong.  Edward Farmer is a fierce new talent.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    “We’re slaves to our circumstances.” “Do birds remain in winter when that cold threatens their livelihood? Do migrants stay in one place where there is no food left to keep them?” “No one makes us into anything.” I said sternly. “What we do is our own choice, but it’s a choice that’s laden with scars, Fletcher.” It’s crippled by the things we’ve had done to us and the things they continue to do.” Pale is the story of two families, one white and one black living on a Southern plantation in the 1960s “We’re slaves to our circumstances.” “Do birds remain in winter when that cold threatens their livelihood? Do migrants stay in one place where there is no food left to keep them?” “No one makes us into anything.” I said sternly. “What we do is our own choice, but it’s a choice that’s laden with scars, Fletcher.” It’s crippled by the things we’ve had done to us and the things they continue to do.” Pale is the story of two families, one white and one black living on a Southern plantation in the 1960s. Slavery may be over but Bernice and her extended family are as much stuck as any black family ever was as slaves. The Kerns family lords over them and inflicts all sorts of psychological torture and airs of superiority as any white family would over their servants. The racial inequality drips from every word and action. But each character is tortured by their past, their circumstances and the uncertainty of the future. There are many secrets that keeps these two families intertwined and miserable. Powerful read that was beautifully written! I received a review copy of this novel via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    ⭐⭐⭐ A messy twist of lies, vindication and deceit. A slave owning family slowly loses their power and finds themselves at the mercy of their slaves when their sins finally catch up with them over the course of many years. Eventually, these sins also catch up with the slaves but they ultimately overcome the effects of the poisonous influence of the master family. The cadence of this book was strange, switching from one scenario to another quickly but the writing was beautiful. I had compassion fo ⭐⭐⭐ A messy twist of lies, vindication and deceit. A slave owning family slowly loses their power and finds themselves at the mercy of their slaves when their sins finally catch up with them over the course of many years. Eventually, these sins also catch up with the slaves but they ultimately overcome the effects of the poisonous influence of the master family. The cadence of this book was strange, switching from one scenario to another quickly but the writing was beautiful. I had compassion for the families and their situations but I failed to feel connected to or empathy for any one specific character because all of the drama was very matter-of-fact. It just seemed to lack emotion. I recommend this one for a book club because of the moral, ethical and familial dilemmas that prompted a lot of questions for me throughout the story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Arlena Dean

    Title: Pale Author: Edward Farmer Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: Four Review: "Pale" by Edward Farmer My Speculation: I found 'Pale' quite an engaging read where we find Bernice going to live with her brother, Floyd, in the 1960s in Mississippi, who worked on a cotton plantation. What a story of how this Missus was one very deceptive, petty, and vindictive person that caused all kinds of trouble for everyone, which included her husband. Yes, what she was trying to do w Title: Pale Author: Edward Farmer Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: Four Review: "Pale" by Edward Farmer My Speculation: I found 'Pale' quite an engaging read where we find Bernice going to live with her brother, Floyd, in the 1960s in Mississippi, who worked on a cotton plantation. What a story of how this Missus was one very deceptive, petty, and vindictive person that caused all kinds of trouble for everyone, which included her husband. Yes, what she was trying to do was to soothe her wounds. What will turn out from all of this is after the Missus dies, there will be more secrets and lies of the family that worked for them will come out. Be ready for a story of where "there is a thin line between servant and slave and how revengeful choices can define and change lives for generations." I will say this was quite a sad story even at the end of what happened. I would like to thank Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erricka Hager

    This was an okay read. There were a lot of character voices and stories to follow. The beginning of the book was intriguing and then at some point it started to drag. The story follows our main character Bernice to a cotton plantation where her brother also works because her husband up and left her. Pale continues to discuss how the various lies, deception and master vs slave narratives impacts the lives of the people who work/reside at the Kern Plantation in 1960s Mississippi.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Venessia

    A book I probably should not have forced myself to finish because it didn’t get any more interesting. The synopsis reeled me in and I had seen rave reviews from this debut book, however the storyline dragged on and never quite lived up to my expectations. This was the most underwhelming book of 2020 for me. While some of the themes presented in this novel were interesting: generational trauma, lies, deception, and grief..the storytelling left much to be desired.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    A glimpse into life in the Mississippi delta during the 60s and the complex relationships between the white cotton plantation owners and the African Americans who work in their home and on their land. Much of the story takes place in the small house and the reader "lives" in that place along with all of the sounds, images, and emotions. Be prepared to underline (or kindle highlight) many sentences or passages that capture truth and feelings in carefully chosen words. A glimpse into life in the Mississippi delta during the 60s and the complex relationships between the white cotton plantation owners and the African Americans who work in their home and on their land. Much of the story takes place in the small house and the reader "lives" in that place along with all of the sounds, images, and emotions. Be prepared to underline (or kindle highlight) many sentences or passages that capture truth and feelings in carefully chosen words.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Liza

    Debut author Edward A. Farmer describes a leading character as “a pale color shaded by all that was around,” but I think this applies to every one of the characters in this story. I found this book to be a fresh study of the adages “you reap what you sow” and “slaves to our own circumstances,” both of which are uttered by his characters. We witness how choice and circumstance affect the vividly-wrought cast living and working on the Kern cotton plantation in 1960s Mississippi, where “things that Debut author Edward A. Farmer describes a leading character as “a pale color shaded by all that was around,” but I think this applies to every one of the characters in this story. I found this book to be a fresh study of the adages “you reap what you sow” and “slaves to our own circumstances,” both of which are uttered by his characters. We witness how choice and circumstance affect the vividly-wrought cast living and working on the Kern cotton plantation in 1960s Mississippi, where “things that typically keep well in others homes don’t keep well…” In this home we meet: The narrative protagonist: Bernice, a black woman who travels to the Kern plantation for work after her husband has gone missing. The black workers: Floyd, Bernice’s brother, a guardian and longtime field hand on the plantation; and Silva, the housekeeper who vacillates between prey and preyer, and her two sons, Jesse and Fletcher, whose fates are cruelly manipulated by the Kerns. The white, landowning Kerns: Mr. Kern, an unloving, older husband with a poorly concealed infatuation with Silva, and Miss Lula, his porcelain doll of a wife, broken and remolded by the loss of their only child. Each of them are subject to a precariously balanced scale in which any small positive is quickly checked by a heavier negative, a negative that is often weighted by those in power. It is an emotionally challenging story to bear witness to, but the examinations of their choices, their motivations, and their blindspots are artfully explored. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that has delved so deeply into character development and the influences that shape them. Pale is a talentedly written book by a new voice that I look forward to hearing more from.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather L

    This is a quiet book, not a lot of action happens. There is a log of dialogue between the characters, mostly about the ‘Missus’ of the house who routinely suffers from various maladies, she will have seizures on occasion and will become bedridden for days at a time, she’s looked after by Bernice and Silva, another black servant. The story is told from the POV of Bernice who accepts her brother’s invitation to join him at a plantation owned by a white man in rural Mississippi in the latter part o This is a quiet book, not a lot of action happens. There is a log of dialogue between the characters, mostly about the ‘Missus’ of the house who routinely suffers from various maladies, she will have seizures on occasion and will become bedridden for days at a time, she’s looked after by Bernice and Silva, another black servant. The story is told from the POV of Bernice who accepts her brother’s invitation to join him at a plantation owned by a white man in rural Mississippi in the latter part of the 1960’s. Bernice and her brother are black and the time period was not a good one for black folk. For the most part the servants remain on the property, very rarely do they venture outside of the plantation boundary. The Missus has a temper, especially when she figures out that her husband had fathered a child while they were married, she takes her revenge on that child. One of questions raised by one of the sons of Bernice, who also works at the plantation, is whether they are slaves. The response was they are a slave to their circumstance, too poor to leave they are trapped doing the jobs they do until they, literally, die. I enjoyed the story and found parts of it eye opening, I recommend it. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Mississippi in the summer of 1966 is like a fly in amber. Things have legally changed since the Civil War but economic circumstance and privilege continue to hold African Americans in positions of servility. Told from the perspective of Bernice, a woman has had a tough go of it, this is the story of a cotton plantation and the people who live there. The Missus is an angry woman who has just discovered how she was betrayed. Her fury will reverberates though the servants, especially to Jesse and F Mississippi in the summer of 1966 is like a fly in amber. Things have legally changed since the Civil War but economic circumstance and privilege continue to hold African Americans in positions of servility. Told from the perspective of Bernice, a woman has had a tough go of it, this is the story of a cotton plantation and the people who live there. The Missus is an angry woman who has just discovered how she was betrayed. Her fury will reverberates though the servants, especially to Jesse and Fletcher, the sons of Silva, who works with Bernice inside the house. No spoilers on the secret. This is atmospheric (you'll feel the heat) if a bit slow. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. A good debut from a writer to watch.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This was a beautiful book that examines how people can weave a web of control, angst, pain, and betrayal around each other, and the many types of insidious control exerted over black people in the 60s South even though they were technically not slaves anymore. This book is written incredibly well and though some may find the plot a bit slow-paced, I think it did a great job of building so much tension into each scene that you could crack the air like ice. While it's certainly not a happy story, This was a beautiful book that examines how people can weave a web of control, angst, pain, and betrayal around each other, and the many types of insidious control exerted over black people in the 60s South even though they were technically not slaves anymore. This book is written incredibly well and though some may find the plot a bit slow-paced, I think it did a great job of building so much tension into each scene that you could crack the air like ice. While it's certainly not a happy story, it's engaging, breathless, and will keep you reading until the end. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for a truthful review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Claire James Carroll

    This novel is expansive. The word may be overused, but this book earns it. There's a good flow between descriptions of the land, squabbles, lies, loves, burdens, and racism at the Kern plantation in mid-20th-c Mississippi. The narrator’s descriptive gaze gives each detail and observation a decades-long scope. While the Missus is chaotic in a way that isn't ever quite made clear, the arc of her decline is mapped with great patience. #NetGalley This novel is expansive. The word may be overused, but this book earns it. There's a good flow between descriptions of the land, squabbles, lies, loves, burdens, and racism at the Kern plantation in mid-20th-c Mississippi. The narrator’s descriptive gaze gives each detail and observation a decades-long scope. While the Missus is chaotic in a way that isn't ever quite made clear, the arc of her decline is mapped with great patience. #NetGalley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    I really enjoyed the first half but by the time I was midway through I was no longer invested. This could partially be the choppy way I read it, but the character development eventually stalled out and so I lost interest. Farmer is a great writer and the setting of a totally non-progressive plantation in the 60s was heartbreaking and disturbing, but ultimately there wasn't enough material there for me to really dig into and care about. I really enjoyed the first half but by the time I was midway through I was no longer invested. This could partially be the choppy way I read it, but the character development eventually stalled out and so I lost interest. Farmer is a great writer and the setting of a totally non-progressive plantation in the 60s was heartbreaking and disturbing, but ultimately there wasn't enough material there for me to really dig into and care about.

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