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It is 1913, shortly before the start of the First World War, and Annalaura is alone again. Her gambling, womanizing husband has left the plot they sharecrop in rural Tennessee — why or for how long she does not know. Without food or money and with her future tied to the fate of the season’s tobacco crop, Annalaura struggles to raise her four children. When help comes in th It is 1913, shortly before the start of the First World War, and Annalaura is alone again. Her gambling, womanizing husband has left the plot they sharecrop in rural Tennessee — why or for how long she does not know. Without food or money and with her future tied to the fate of the season’s tobacco crop, Annalaura struggles to raise her four children. When help comes in the form of an amorous landowner, who is she to turn it — and him — away? In this remarkable first novel, as bracingly original as it is exquisitely rendered, Francine Howard tells a moving story of American desire and ambition and the tragic, slippery boundaries of race under Jim Crow.


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It is 1913, shortly before the start of the First World War, and Annalaura is alone again. Her gambling, womanizing husband has left the plot they sharecrop in rural Tennessee — why or for how long she does not know. Without food or money and with her future tied to the fate of the season’s tobacco crop, Annalaura struggles to raise her four children. When help comes in th It is 1913, shortly before the start of the First World War, and Annalaura is alone again. Her gambling, womanizing husband has left the plot they sharecrop in rural Tennessee — why or for how long she does not know. Without food or money and with her future tied to the fate of the season’s tobacco crop, Annalaura struggles to raise her four children. When help comes in the form of an amorous landowner, who is she to turn it — and him — away? In this remarkable first novel, as bracingly original as it is exquisitely rendered, Francine Howard tells a moving story of American desire and ambition and the tragic, slippery boundaries of race under Jim Crow.

30 review for Page from a Tennessee Journal: A Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mocha Girl

    Howard's wonderful debut, Page From a Tennessee Journal, is not only a testament to her family, but also a revealing peak into a shameful aspect of American history. Although the book is tagged as a work of fiction, its premise and themes reflect the social, political, and racial attitudes and views of the American South in the early twentieth century. The novel focuses on two couples, one black family with young children and their white landowners, a childless couple who "leases" their acreage u Howard's wonderful debut, Page From a Tennessee Journal, is not only a testament to her family, but also a revealing peak into a shameful aspect of American history. Although the book is tagged as a work of fiction, its premise and themes reflect the social, political, and racial attitudes and views of the American South in the early twentieth century. The novel focuses on two couples, one black family with young children and their white landowners, a childless couple who "leases" their acreage under a sharecropping arrangement. The reader is immediately thrown into this era from the vivid descriptions depicting the harsh farm life, back-breaking, weary work under a relentless sun, and hunger pangs and weakness of the children. The inner dialogues, thoughts and interactions illustrate the social morals and values of the day and it does not take long for the white male landowner to lustfully claim the entrapped, desperate black mother as his concubine in the absence of her wayward husband. This concept of "paramour rights" was a common (and widely accepted) practice at the time; black husbands and white wives were left to accept this "arrangement" as hurt, bitter, angry, often powerless outsiders who had no choice but to tolerate the situation and endure the shame, pain, and embarrassment in silence. Ironically, the book not only illustrated the plight of a certain class of African Americans who were systemically relegated to second-class citizenship; but also illustrates the financial/legal/social subjugation and emotional alienation imposed on white wives along with their frustrations and limitations. The novel gains more momentum when the husband comes home to claim his wife against the white landowner's wishes. History tells us that such an objection could be deadly for the husband and his sons. The characters were well drawn, the situations were steeped in realism, and the historical aspects, pacing, and dialogue were spot on. I thought the writing was solid and above par for a debut. The only nit (albeit a small one) was with the novel was with the ending; it was a bit too open as I would have liked to have a bit more closure on the fate of the characters. This book was provided at no cost to the reviewer from the Amazon Vine Voice program. Reviewed by Phyllis May 15, 2010 APOOO BookClub (Online) Nubian Circle Book Club (Orlando, FL)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tory

    All of my least favorite things - bad writing, heaving bosoms, etc ick.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela Smith

    Being interested in all periods of history this book was no exception. The story is set in 1913 in Rural Tennessee and tells the stories of two families. The first family is that of the name Welles, a black family share-cropping tobacco on McNaughton land. Annalaura Welles is in dire straits with her husband disappearing on her and her four children some weeks earlier, the crops are not growing well and their meagre food supplies are running out...Annalaura is desperate and her children are star Being interested in all periods of history this book was no exception. The story is set in 1913 in Rural Tennessee and tells the stories of two families. The first family is that of the name Welles, a black family share-cropping tobacco on McNaughton land. Annalaura Welles is in dire straits with her husband disappearing on her and her four children some weeks earlier, the crops are not growing well and their meagre food supplies are running out...Annalaura is desperate and her children are starving. Alexander McNaughton and his wife Elua Mae have been married for twenty-five years and are childless after she still birthed a baby many years ago. She is emotionally restrained, even afraid to show passion in the bedroom in case her husband thinks her a loose woman. She orders their life to the dot in her house hold ledgers. Alexander is a practical man who owns the land that the Welles family farms and knows that Annalaura's crops cannot be managed without her husband, when he goes to check on their patch of land he finds the tobacco crop not as far along as it should be. Knowing Annalaura to be an unprotected black woman, he decides she is fair game and takes a fancy to her. Right from the start most of my sympathies gravitated towards Annalaura. Her husband has run off and left her to get on with it, you later find out that her husband has gone to town to earn some money for the family, but with little thought to what his wife and kids left behind will live on without him there. Annalaura does the best she can with her kids to try and bring the tobacco in and is at her last straw. Alexander McNaughton could throw them off his land at any moment. The men in this story leave you feeling angry at their treatment of their women and especially Alex for me, Annalaura did not want to take up with him but in the end did it to keep a roof over her head and put food in her children's bellies. She dared not go against him and submits to his touch. Alex does many things to improve their lives but something happens to increase Annalaura's shame at what has passed between them. All this time her no good husband is away working in a bawdy house and sleeping with other women while saving to come home. He hardly even thinks about what she might be living on in his absence. Alex McNaughton treats his wife as less than human, not even thinking what his relationship with Annalaura might do to her or affect their lives. He commits what is the cardinal sin back then and falls in love with Annalaura. Eula Mae is oblivious to this almost until the last few chapters and when she starts to notice their supplies keep coming up short in her book. Annalaura's husband returns almost a year after he left to find things not as they were and everything goes to hell. Overall I enjoyed the book, the attention to detail, the social history of the times made you feel like you had travelled back to that time through the pages of the book, but in the end I found the ambiguous ending a little disappointing. Although I did like the thought of Annalaura having more control over her destiny. A good book with sympathetic characters as well as ones that needed a good hiding, lol.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aarti

    Page From a Tennessee Journal revolves around four people. Eula Mae has been married to Alex McNaughton for over twenty years. They have no children, a hole that she feels keenly. She loves her husband, but he hardly pays her any attention. She takes pride in anticipating all his needs and wants. But Eula Mae sometimes wishes that she could be more intimate with her husband; she just doesn't know how to apprise him of that fact without him thinking her too forward or, worse, a hussy. Annalaura is Page From a Tennessee Journal revolves around four people. Eula Mae has been married to Alex McNaughton for over twenty years. They have no children, a hole that she feels keenly. She loves her husband, but he hardly pays her any attention. She takes pride in anticipating all his needs and wants. But Eula Mae sometimes wishes that she could be more intimate with her husband; she just doesn't know how to apprise him of that fact without him thinking her too forward or, worse, a hussy. Annalaura is a sharecropper on Alexander McNaughton's farm. Her husband, John, left some months ago without a word and now she is desperately trying to feed and clothe her four children on her own, with no money. She doesn't think John will ever return, and she is terrified that McNaughton will turn her out of her home if she doesn't bring in a good tobacco harvest. Sure enough, Alex McNaughton comes to check on her plot's progress, only to find it not performing up to par. He finds Annalaura attractive, though. Very much so. And so he brings her food to feed her children in exchange for spending the night with her. And then he keeps bringing gifts. And keeps spending the night. Meanwhile, John Welles is in Nashville making as much money as he possibly can so that he can get his family its own farm. This is taking longer than he expects, though, and he is gone for well over a year. When he returns and sees the state of his family, everything begins to unravel. John and Alex must come to terms with their own feelings about their wives and their families, and Annalaura and Eula Mae must decide how to respond to a world that may very well turn on them. I found both Annalaura and Eula Mae very easy to sympathize with. They were both victims of situations beyond their control, but they never pitied themselves. Each was so strong and dignified and so heartbreakingly realistic about things. In contrast to the women in this story, the men were very hard to sympathize with. I liked both of them, kind of. But I was mostly very ambivalent towards them both. John is charming and seems to believe he is doing what's best for his family (even if what's best for them is starvation for a year while he's off in Nashville). I only began to feel sympathy for the male characters towards the end of the book. Up until then, they both acted so selfishly (and even to the end, Alex seemed pretty delusional) that it was impossible for me to feel any empathy towards them. They never once wondered about how their actions would affect other people, least of all their wives, or what might happen in the future and how it might be dealt with. Alex, especially, was so unaware of the fact that Eula Mae might have feelings while being so concerned about everything having to do with Annalaura that I wanted to hit him. Multiple times. I wanted to hit John, too, but not as hard. The way that the men justify their behavior is painful to my feminist sensibilities. I liked that Howard wrote this story within the constraints of societal norms without making her characters stereotypical. There wasn't the caricature white villain, or the victimized black woman. Everyone was fleshed out and believable. Full review at: http://aartichapati.blogspot.com/2010...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Page from a Tennessee Journal tells the story of race and gender relations in 1913 Tennessee through the parallel but intersecting stories of two couples - white landowners Eula and Alex McNaughton and black sharecroppers Annalaura and Joe Welles. The story was emotional, brutal, and tender, highlighting the social structure of the South in that era. The story was more complex than your typical race relations novel because it looked not only at the black-white dynamic and the racism that pervade Page from a Tennessee Journal tells the story of race and gender relations in 1913 Tennessee through the parallel but intersecting stories of two couples - white landowners Eula and Alex McNaughton and black sharecroppers Annalaura and Joe Welles. The story was emotional, brutal, and tender, highlighting the social structure of the South in that era. The story was more complex than your typical race relations novel because it looked not only at the black-white dynamic and the racism that pervaded the South 100 years ago, but also women's role in that society. Life was hard for black women, but it wasn't so easy for white women either, who were similarly forced to be subservient to white men and to never ask questions (though they weren't treated as chattel in the same way that black women were treated). The novel starts out with Annalaura trying to bring in the tobacco crop on the McNaughton's land after her husband Joe has run off without a word. Annalaura is left caring for her four children, ranging in age from 3 to 12 without enough food and in deplorable accomodations. Alex is initially motivated to kick Annalaura and her family off of the land, but finds himself physically attracted to her and rapes her. The novel is romantic in a sense - Alex has no idea that he is doing anything wrong because in his society's standards, a white man has the right to any single black woman - and he actually treats Annalaura well (other than raping her, of course). Meanwhile, Annalaura is plagued with guilt and fear as to her husband's reaction, if he ever returns. However, she learns an important lesson: there is nothing she can do because if a white man sets his sights on a black woman, the black woman has to give the white man what he wants. Alex's wife Eula is suspicious about her husband's increasing expenditures, but knows to never question her husband. Ultimately she also learns an important lesson: a white woman can never question her husband's affair with a black woman. She simply must accept it. Tennessee life is harsh at this time. It is difficult, at times, to read such overt racism and mysogeny. But Howard does an amazing thing. The characters are all well-rooted in their social and historical context and no character is evil. They simply behave as they are expected to behave in 1913 Tennessee given their social position. Page From a Tennessee Journal is a difficult read at times, but well worth it. The novel certainly does not romanticize the time, it leaves a realistic picture of what life must have been like and serves as a reminder of how far we have come as a society. 4.5 stars. [Reviewed for Amazon VINE:]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    The writing style of this novel seems to be typical of the new writers coming out of Writers’ Workshops these days; generic. While the stories and settings are different, the overall style and tone of these new “serious” novels are the same. It’s as if they are all part of an upscale chain of restaurants. The formula seems to be: write prose that are better than average (but nothing too difficult, esoteric, lyrical or original), and write about a serious subject (war, slavery, Jim Crow laws) and The writing style of this novel seems to be typical of the new writers coming out of Writers’ Workshops these days; generic. While the stories and settings are different, the overall style and tone of these new “serious” novels are the same. It’s as if they are all part of an upscale chain of restaurants. The formula seems to be: write prose that are better than average (but nothing too difficult, esoteric, lyrical or original), and write about a serious subject (war, slavery, Jim Crow laws) and you will get critical acclaim and sell a lot of books. After reading just a few pages in one of these books I know I am reading a book by an author that was part of a “workshop or writers group.” Set in 1913 in rural Tennessee, this story is about two couples one white and one African-American. The African American couple, the Welles’, sharecrop on the farm owned by the white couple, the McNaughtons. Trouble brews when the John Welles abandons his wife and 4 children with nary a word and Alex McNaughton falls in love with Annalaura Welles, John’s wife. While the story held my interest and attention, I did not find the characters all that believable. Alex McNaughton actually believes that his wife will have no problem bringing his black mistress and children into their house to live with them--Really? He is a Southern born and bred man who knows the order of things in the South at the time; not even he could be that obtuse or love-stricken to think this was going to fly. Most of the secondary characters are stereotypical white Southerners. Eula, John’s wife seems to be the most believable character, but she is really not a pivotal character. And I think the hardest thing to swallow is we are led to believe Annalaura is a smart woman, but with the last paragraph of the book I think we have to re-think that notion too. Between the generic writing style and the less than believable characters I think this book is about 2 ½ stars. I also did not come away from reading this book feeling I had read something original or had any new insights.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Monica Savage

    Bare with me while I try to explain my two star rating. First of all, this is a story about a harsh time in South's history - the treatment of blacks after slavery was abolished. It is the very ugly reality of the exploitation of black women by white men, and also of white, southern women by white southern men. I am glad the author reminded us of that time. However, I wish the telling of the story had been stronger. The writing seems very standard, decent prose but nothing more. Characters are v Bare with me while I try to explain my two star rating. First of all, this is a story about a harsh time in South's history - the treatment of blacks after slavery was abolished. It is the very ugly reality of the exploitation of black women by white men, and also of white, southern women by white southern men. I am glad the author reminded us of that time. However, I wish the telling of the story had been stronger. The writing seems very standard, decent prose but nothing more. Characters are very one dimensional and there is no growth. The author also tries too hard to incorporate detailed descriptions of sex and rape, which, frankly, are not needed and accomplish only to cheapen the historical novel. Maybe it's just me who thinks that "feeling his growing manhood" is overused and does not make for accomplished prose. Next, the characters are jist too unbelievable. For example, Alex, a southern white man born and bread in Tennessee white families of early 1900s, goes around so love stricken for a black sharecropper woman that he actually believes he can bring her and her children (including his child with her) in his home to leave peacefully together with his white wife. He believes it so much that he can't even imagine that his wife and fellow white owners would do anything else but welcome his new family in his midst. Really??? I just couldn't sympathize with any of the characters. I didn't feel for them. Lastly, the ending was disappointing. I am ok with novels which leave you pondering, allow you to choose your own ending. in this story, the vague ending did not fit. So, here you go. Two stars for the effort of bringing up a topic and a time we should remember.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Cresswell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a well written book with an interesting setting, but I did not enjoy the premise of the story. None of the characters are particularly likeable and the ending is not satisfying for me personally. I know it's set in another time period, but I have to question the fact that ALL the male characters felt they could cheat on their wives without issue, but women didn't have the same options. I'm not convinced that's entirely accurate. It's certainly something that would be hard to verify with This was a well written book with an interesting setting, but I did not enjoy the premise of the story. None of the characters are particularly likeable and the ending is not satisfying for me personally. I know it's set in another time period, but I have to question the fact that ALL the male characters felt they could cheat on their wives without issue, but women didn't have the same options. I'm not convinced that's entirely accurate. It's certainly something that would be hard to verify with a history book. I was especially struck by the fact that were numerous scenes describing sex that was essentially rape, but from the rapist's point of view who found it sensous. I felt betrayed as a reader, being lead into thinking it was consensual, only to discover in the next chapter (from another character's point of view) that it wasn't. I wanted Annalaura to be free of all the abusers in her life, but the ending didn't give me much hope of that. It was a real downer. I wouldn't recommend it, but I give it four stars because it held my attention and definately had me wondering what would happen at the end. What did happen wasn't that believeable though. It's probably more like three and half stars. And one last gripe, the word 'bile' was overused. It's a strong word and doesn't need to be used every other paragraph at the end. It's rediculous that a man would leave his wife with no word for a year and be surprised she wasn't waiting around for him when he came back, and the thought of it making him want to vomit constantly was silly.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    Fabulous book! Being from the south I found the story totally believable and the authors treatment of the characters wonderful. The story is set just after the turn of the century with a white landowner falling in love with a black sharecropper and while it was acceptable to have sex with black women it was taboo to actually love them or at least let it be known that you loved them. This was a time in southern history when women, black and white had very little say over their bodies or lives in Fabulous book! Being from the south I found the story totally believable and the authors treatment of the characters wonderful. The story is set just after the turn of the century with a white landowner falling in love with a black sharecropper and while it was acceptable to have sex with black women it was taboo to actually love them or at least let it be known that you loved them. This was a time in southern history when women, black and white had very little say over their bodies or lives in general and while it may be easy to make the assumption that the men are all villians the author made us hate them at times and feel sorry for them at others. This is the story of strong women black and white, that did what they had to do to survive and protect their family as well as an important look at southern history. I highly recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scott L

    Powerful, horrifying, eye-opening. I don't think I've ever understood the plight of the black woman in the south, even as late as 1910, until now. I listened to the book - outstanding narration by Casaundra Freeman. Not only did I get inside the head and heart of the main character, Annalaura, but also her husband, her white lover, and finally the white lover's wife. Although slavery has been abolished for many years, it is still so much a part of the mind and culture of the South, controlling, Powerful, horrifying, eye-opening. I don't think I've ever understood the plight of the black woman in the south, even as late as 1910, until now. I listened to the book - outstanding narration by Casaundra Freeman. Not only did I get inside the head and heart of the main character, Annalaura, but also her husband, her white lover, and finally the white lover's wife. Although slavery has been abolished for many years, it is still so much a part of the mind and culture of the South, controlling, dictating, restricting black and white alike. Each victims in their own unique ways.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Trudy

    A really good story which has held me captive for the last three days. It a story of motives, actions, and morals. Some of the characters do some truly wicked things, but they feel totally justified, and therefore do not see the devestation which their actions have caused. I guess very few things are purely black or white.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    What a wonderful story. Powerful, moving, amazing. A very worthy read indeed. One of those books I found hard to put down once I started reading it!! it was worth every penny that I paid for it and then some.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Stevens

    Wonderful and enthralling story I chose this book to read because of its title and its cover. I've always been interested in the post civil war reconstruction period in the south and the travails of its sharecroppers and its landowners. Francine Thomas Howard's characters jumped off the page at me and became people I cared about from the very beginning. It read like a personal journal to me. Annalaura, John, Alex, Rebecca, Eula are wonderfully developed characters able to relate to one another on Wonderful and enthralling story I chose this book to read because of its title and its cover. I've always been interested in the post civil war reconstruction period in the south and the travails of its sharecroppers and its landowners. Francine Thomas Howard's characters jumped off the page at me and became people I cared about from the very beginning. It read like a personal journal to me. Annalaura, John, Alex, Rebecca, Eula are wonderfully developed characters able to relate to one another on personal emotional levels. The lives of these people are hard and crusty on the surface and Howard is able to peel back the skin of each character's onion, as it were, to reveal each individual's emotional and physical needs. It is a wonderfully written novel. Thank you.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joan Lemen

    Heartbreaking and believable It was difficult to put this book down though the story was painful to follow. Slavery was no longer legal in Tennessee but in the age of Jim Crow black people had little freedom and few opportunities to get by or succeed. Share croppers were slaves to the land. Women and children were forced to work just to put food on the table. Without a male partner, black women were victims of white men's sexual proclivities. Annalaura struggled to feed her children when abandoned Heartbreaking and believable It was difficult to put this book down though the story was painful to follow. Slavery was no longer legal in Tennessee but in the age of Jim Crow black people had little freedom and few opportunities to get by or succeed. Share croppers were slaves to the land. Women and children were forced to work just to put food on the table. Without a male partner, black women were victims of white men's sexual proclivities. Annalaura struggled to feed her children when abandoned by her husband. Societal norms locked her and her husband in untenable situations. Who would live and who would die were the questions that kept me enthralled to the very last page.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I tried. I really, really tried 3 times to give this book a chance, but I could not. Between the racial language to the gross sexual assault, there was no way in hell I was going to enjoy this book or even get anything from it other than the taste of rising bile in my mouth. Maybe someone else can somehow appreciate the historical accuracy of it, but for me, give the current climate at the end of 2017, this is not what I need. I stopped torturing myself halfway through and even returned this to I tried. I really, really tried 3 times to give this book a chance, but I could not. Between the racial language to the gross sexual assault, there was no way in hell I was going to enjoy this book or even get anything from it other than the taste of rising bile in my mouth. Maybe someone else can somehow appreciate the historical accuracy of it, but for me, give the current climate at the end of 2017, this is not what I need. I stopped torturing myself halfway through and even returned this to Audible for a refund.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    pedestrian and terrible.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    A friend recommended this book, it's probably one I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. I thought it was a good book, something different A friend recommended this book, it's probably one I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. I thought it was a good book, something different

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nona

    Not my cup of tea. Probably not in the mood to listen to poverty and misery at the moment.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    A very hard book to read. Hard time in history, hard time in the lives of women, black or white.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis Dixon

    An Unexpected Jewel The saying you can't judge a book by its cover certainly applies to this book. Not at all what I expected but definitely a page turner!!!!! An Unexpected Jewel The saying you can't judge a book by its cover certainly applies to this book. Not at all what I expected but definitely a page turner!!!!!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Key

    Good book with some suspense. Surprised by the ending and wonder if there may be a sequel because the ending left the door wide open for one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    I stumbled upon this book here on Goodreads. A shared book group member of mines, had the sequel as a "book she wants to read". I looked up the author and found there was this book. It was on kindle unlimited. I wasn't planning on reading the book but the kindle has new audio feature that was available with this book that I wanted to check out. I will say this book was a very pleasant surprise. This is probably one of the first historical novels where I felt sorry for all women, no matter their c I stumbled upon this book here on Goodreads. A shared book group member of mines, had the sequel as a "book she wants to read". I looked up the author and found there was this book. It was on kindle unlimited. I wasn't planning on reading the book but the kindle has new audio feature that was available with this book that I wanted to check out. I will say this book was a very pleasant surprise. This is probably one of the first historical novels where I felt sorry for all women, no matter their color and the men were absolute crap. Well, there was that one book about Zora Hurston and covering the Ruby McCollum trial. Most of the men in that story were pretty s**** as well. This book pretty much had the same likeness when it came to the men. Annaluara is a married black woman with four children, living in Tennessee. The story takes place in 1913 on a sharecropping farm. Working hard for a better life, that was until John, her husband of 10 plus years decides, that Annalaura and the kids can handle this life alone for a few months without him, unbeknownst to them. When reading about Ruby McCollum and paramour rights, you almost find it hard, that people have lived this way and probably still live this way, today. Knowing that black woman alone in the South is fair game, it seems like a very predictable Alex McNaughton decided he wanted a change. Since the story takes place in 1913, you realize that legally on paper black people where "free" but reading about Annalaura's encounters with Alex makes you believe that nothing really changed but the name of the game. Reading about the non direct eye contact. Black people only seem to be labeled as lazy by white folks' standards ( which I never understood why white people say these things even now). The real surprise of this story, for me, was Eula. Eula is a very plain woman. The type of beauty one would say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Her parents believe that once her younger sister married, Eula would end up as an "old maid". Well here comes Alex. Apparently, Alex is "handsome" but not wealthy and sees something in the non average beauty of Eula, A hard worker. For me Eula was born, bathed, and steeped tradition. Basically the rules were written, and you had to follow them and Eula made sure she followed them to "T". Not matter the nagging feelings, that were telling her something was up. As a black woman, I imagined my great grandmother living in the South under these conditions. As a black woman, I felt just as bad for Annalaura as I felt for Eula. This book was well written, the dialogue with the dialect didn't scare me off too bad. This book sometimes had me believing that the men in the story where delusional. There wasn't much of the "Romance" shown between Annalaura and Alex as there were the very few romantic moments between Alex and Eula, even if another name was said on his lips. I've read the sequel is suppose to take place 16 years later. Honestly, that is a little late. That would put Alex in his early 60's and possibly he should be dead because of the time in which these people lived. If she sets it at 7 years later, that would at least put them in the prohibition period and the years when Americans were starting to see better incomes, including black ppl. The 1930's would put them in the time of the great depression. It seems like Alex and Eula were ok, financially in 1914 but 1930's would they even have anything and could he even afford to go and find her? Then again, its not my book. So here is hoping for the best in book 2.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gloria ~ mzglorybe

    Do not expect a fairy-tale ending. Remember this is the early 1900's in Tennessee. There were no happy endings for anyone in this situation. It was common for white men/landowners to have black mistresses, and often times these women labored on these white men's properties, where they lived with their wives. In this well written but heartbreaking novel, we get an intimate view of what it must've been like for all. For the white wives, who despite what they knew about their straying husbands, kep Do not expect a fairy-tale ending. Remember this is the early 1900's in Tennessee. There were no happy endings for anyone in this situation. It was common for white men/landowners to have black mistresses, and often times these women labored on these white men's properties, where they lived with their wives. In this well written but heartbreaking novel, we get an intimate view of what it must've been like for all. For the white wives, who despite what they knew about their straying husbands, kept the home-fires burning, and tended to their duties. They'd pretend to look the other way, and avoid any mention of their spouses indiscretions, even though everyone knew about the "yella" children they sired with black mistresses. They often felt personally responsible, as if somehow they couldn't keep their men satisfied, and yet they were brought up to be inhibited "ladies," not openly demonstrative, even if they wanted to be. The black mistresses also felt the shame and guilt, but for different reasons. Even the children felt the repercussions of such actions, and suffered as a consequence. The author did a good job of portraying the feelings and emotional sides of these issues from each persons point of view. You felt like you knew every character, the good, the bad, and the ugly. If an author can accomplish this for the reader, she has succeeded. It was easy for me to picture Jada Pinckett-Smith as the lovely Annalaura, with her petite firm body and amber eyes... Cicely Tyson as the fearless Aunt Becky. We get intimately acquainted with John, Annalaura's philandering husband absent a year, while his wife did what she had to do to keep food in her children's mouths. The novel jumps from character to character but is easy to follow. White men of the day were not always kind to their women, white or black. In this case, the white farmer, Alex, who becomes Annalaura's lover in her husbands absence is a kind-hearted man, albeit naive. He respects women, we can't help but like him, and root for him when he yearns to be a father, and to openly show his love for a woman. Not a simple thing to do in this time of our nation's history, especially if the woman you love is black, and you already have a white devoted wife tending your home. Love can't change things, not in 1913 Tennessee. It just was what it was. I enjoyed this so much, even though my heart ached for all concerned. I was sad to see it end. I wanted to know what happens to Dolly from that point on, what her life was like. How her addition to the family affected her half-siblings, and what happens to her parents. I hope "Miz Francine" is working on that :) It was well worth the read at a low kindle price. I hope Ms. Howard will continue to write and I will be on the lookout for any more of her works. Definitely recommended, and I rate it a strong 4+ stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hoosier

    Francine Thomas Howard should be congratulated for reminding us about the existence of slavery in the post-slavery era. The story begins with a description of Annalaura Welles and her four small children. Annalaura's husband, John, had suddenly left his family before the tobacco crop harvesting had been completed. He took with him most of the family's funds and food. Annalaura and her young children had to subsist on soup made from water and dandelions while spending their days working in the ho Francine Thomas Howard should be congratulated for reminding us about the existence of slavery in the post-slavery era. The story begins with a description of Annalaura Welles and her four small children. Annalaura's husband, John, had suddenly left his family before the tobacco crop harvesting had been completed. He took with him most of the family's funds and food. Annalaura and her young children had to subsist on soup made from water and dandelions while spending their days working in the hot sun. The owner of the farm, Alex, presents Annalaura with the "choice" of becoming his mistress and receiving food and clothes for her children or leaving the farm with nothing. As Ms. Howard's novel unfolds, the sad plight of African Americans as well as white women unfolds. Annalura's husband, John, beats her when he returns from his journey because of her "choice" to sleep with another man. Annalaura has no recourse from John and surely had no option with Alex. Alex's wife, Eula Mae, had a roof over her head and food in her stomach, but she had little else. When she learned of Alex's infidelity, she was supposed to not mention it again and continue living in harmony with him. The highlight of her life to that point had been keeping a journal of provisions in the house. I highly recommend reading this book because Ms. Howard's words describe an era that is difficult to otherwise fully appreciate.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shari Larsen

    Sorry, too tired today to write a totally original review, so I am borrowing a description from Amazon. Amazon.com Review "Book Description: In Francine Howard’s stunning debut, Page from a Tennessee Journal, rural Tennessee of 1913 remains an unforgiving place for two couples--one black, the other white--who stumble against the rigid boundaries separating their worlds. When white farmer Alexander McNaughton falters into forbidden love with Annalaura Welles he discovers that he has much more to fe Sorry, too tired today to write a totally original review, so I am borrowing a description from Amazon. Amazon.com Review "Book Description: In Francine Howard’s stunning debut, Page from a Tennessee Journal, rural Tennessee of 1913 remains an unforgiving place for two couples--one black, the other white--who stumble against the rigid boundaries separating their worlds. When white farmer Alexander McNaughton falters into forbidden love with Annalaura Welles he discovers that he has much more to fear than the wrath of her returning gun-toting husband. Alexander’s wife – flinty and pragmatic Eula Mae –wages her own battle against the stoicism demanded of white women of her time and social standing. Former sharecropper John Welles, flush with cash from his year's sojourn working the poker tables in "the second best colored whorehouse in all of Nashville," wrestles with his devils as he struggles to assign blame for his wife's relationship with a white man. The convergence of the lives and choices of these fascinating characters– made from fear, pride, determination, spite, nobility and revenge –leads to a heart-pounding and heartbreaking climax that feels at once original, audacious and inevitable." I really enjoyed this book, it was a real page turner. I rate it right up there with "The Color Purple", I think this would make a great movie too. I also think there is a lot more to this story that would make a great sequel.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chrystyna

    I really enoyed this book. It kept my attention and I looked forward to reading it every chance I had. The story is loosely based on the author's family secrets. It starts around 1913. Alex McNaughton, a married white farmer, has a plot of 40 acres for tobacco farming. These 40 acres are tended by a black family that lives in the barn - the Welles family. One day, Mr. Welles up and leaves without telling his family why. His wife, Annalaura and their 4 kids, are left to tend to the fields themsel I really enoyed this book. It kept my attention and I looked forward to reading it every chance I had. The story is loosely based on the author's family secrets. It starts around 1913. Alex McNaughton, a married white farmer, has a plot of 40 acres for tobacco farming. These 40 acres are tended by a black family that lives in the barn - the Welles family. One day, Mr. Welles up and leaves without telling his family why. His wife, Annalaura and their 4 kids, are left to tend to the fields themselves. Alex runs into Annalaura on the field and then a relationship ensues, albeit a one sided relationship for quite a while. I do not want to delve into more specifics of the story as I think it would spoil it. Nonetheless, this story is about white farmers and their black tenants and how the lives are intermingled with purported love and sex. I found the story to be interesting as the dialogue was written in the style that would have been spoken then and in Tennessee. I was able to have a good view on the intermingling of the post-Civil War era white and black cultures from the time. The ending of the book was unexpected for me, but I liked it. I felt satisfied with the entire story. I will definitely look for Ms. Howard's other works.

  27. 4 out of 5

    ALLEN HORNING

    Good book about life, post civil war. I was looking for a book in the civil war period. This was not what I expected. I thought the book was very well done, maybe a bit to sexual but I still enjoyed the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy King

    Interesting view of slavery-style issues past the turn of the 20th Century. Without a few pertinent references to modern events and inventions, the bulk of this book could have been set in the 1850s cotton-growning Mississippi instead of WWI era Tennessee... Good grief, the mind boggles at how long it took to get over the attitudes, actions, behaviors, beliefs, etc...it's no wonder it took folks like the the Freedom Riders, federal integration of schools, "Miss Jane Pittman" and Rosa Parks to fi Interesting view of slavery-style issues past the turn of the 20th Century. Without a few pertinent references to modern events and inventions, the bulk of this book could have been set in the 1850s cotton-growning Mississippi instead of WWI era Tennessee... Good grief, the mind boggles at how long it took to get over the attitudes, actions, behaviors, beliefs, etc...it's no wonder it took folks like the the Freedom Riders, federal integration of schools, "Miss Jane Pittman" and Rosa Parks to finally make a dent in all this so that change could eventually start... I'm concerned there's sill a very long way to go -- I'm afraid that we're still standing on the beach and either looking out to sea or with our heads in the sand. FREEDOM...NOW. Anyone want to join me in a verse of "We Shall Overcome"? By the way, this book is SO well written and so well presented. It really tells the story and conveys the message.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    Being black in America after the Civil War, even into the 1900s, did not mean you were free. We see the lives of landowner Alex and his relationship with a black sharecropper's wife, Annalaura, whose husband left for about a year. While Alex forced the affair, Annalaura realized this way she and her husband would survive, until her wandering and philandering husband returns home. Unfortunately, Annalaura now has the true love of two men, Alex and her husband. She chooses, but only because one de Being black in America after the Civil War, even into the 1900s, did not mean you were free. We see the lives of landowner Alex and his relationship with a black sharecropper's wife, Annalaura, whose husband left for about a year. While Alex forced the affair, Annalaura realized this way she and her husband would survive, until her wandering and philandering husband returns home. Unfortunately, Annalaura now has the true love of two men, Alex and her husband. She chooses, but only because one decided to allow her a way to choose what was better. The book really disturbed me...first of course was Annalaura's being forced to sleep with Alex, who had never strayed before in his docile marriage, the beatings from Annalaura's husband when he found her unfaithful, the agony of Alex's wife when she learned of his infidelity, and the brutish behaviors of the white men towards the blacks, especially the women. Yet, I found Annalaura to become a person with dignity.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    I liked this historical book even though both men in it, John and Alex, came off at certain periods as the most naïve, foolish men ever! So much so I found myself shaking my head at their thoughts and actions. I felt sorry for our main character AnnaLaura, who found herself in a predicament she really had no control over; all because her husband ran off. Granted he had a decent reason, but to just disappear was horrible, even if only trying to avoid the confrontation with his wife. Then Alex, wh I liked this historical book even though both men in it, John and Alex, came off at certain periods as the most naïve, foolish men ever! So much so I found myself shaking my head at their thoughts and actions. I felt sorry for our main character AnnaLaura, who found herself in a predicament she really had no control over; all because her husband ran off. Granted he had a decent reason, but to just disappear was horrible, even if only trying to avoid the confrontation with his wife. Then Alex, who seemed delusional at times in his thinking of AnnaLaura and the future they could have, as though she had a choice in the matter that he pressed upon her. In a time when black women were seen little more than playthings/workhorses, I imagine that had this book been set in a current time period AnnaLaura would have washed her hands of both men and had nothing to do with either! Good book, good story, crazy situations!

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