Anna and Nessie are colorblind in a world where the emancipation of blacks still has whites seeing red.
In 1906, forty years after the Civil War, best friends Anna Benson and Nessie Jameson are colorblind in a world where the emancipation of blacks still has whites seeing red. In antebellum Atlanta, Anna’s family owned Nessie’s family. But now, as the girls shade into young women, Nessie owns Anna’s heart―and vice versa.
Anna and Nessie find freedom in former slave quarters, the only place that they can feel whole. The two have half a mind to run away together, but first they must save up money and stave off suitors. In the meantime, they share books and looks, dark secrets and white lies.
They have an ally in Adeline Grayson, the matriarch of Anna’s family. Not your garden-variety granny, Addy prefers subversion to submission, suffrage to suffering. And she is similarly secretive.
But there is only so much she can do for her granddaughter, and only so much her granddaughter can ask of her. So Anna and Nessie continue to hide their love and hoard their wages―and keep hoping that no one will interfere with their intimacy and independence. Or, for that matter, their interdependence.
Anna and Nessie never question their love for one another. But they are less certain about their future. They may not be able to root out racism, sexism, or heterosexism, but will their affection for each other be sufficient protection against others’ rejection, bigotry, and enmity?
Author Marianne K. Martin has crafted a romance as blistering as the Great Atlanta Fire, ignited by heroines who have more sand than an hourglass and more bounce than a horse and buggy.
Tangled Roots is free of false colors. With the help of Anna and Nessie, Martin deconstructs then reconstructs the roles of women of color (black and white) in Southern society. The writing is decisive and incisive, the storyline engaging and enraging. Readers feel the characters’ fears―that they’ll be chided, derided, divided―and root for them to remain rooted to each other.
Martin’s women may not know their “place,” but they know they have pride of place in your heart. You won’t want to tangle with them, but you’ll be glad you got tangled up in their story.
When you’re finished, you’ll have Georgia on your mind―and a good mind to give someone a piece of it. Because this novel, like the state it’s set in, is a real peach. And Georgia, the whole gay through, comes as sweet and queer as moonlight through the pines.