It is the year 1811 and slavery is still considered an acceptable and even necessary facet of society. Her fair skin belies the fact that Althea is born with black blood on her maternal side. Althea is born free to parents who adore each other and their children, and every day is filled with love and joy. Her father teaches her to always trust the Lord, even when she does not understand. This trust in the Lord is what will get Althea through the horrific years to follow. One night a hurricane takes the lives of her parents and Althea and her little sister are stolen and enslaved by their neighbouring plantation owner. Soon illness takes her sister’s life and Althea is left alone in the world, tormented by a cruel master who locks her in chains and steals her freedom and her innocence. For seven long years Althea endures the injustice while holding fast to her trust in the Lord, secretly saving money and biding her time. One night good fortune smiles on Althea and she manages to escape during a storm while her owner is passed out from too much drink. God blesses her path with a kind captain who realizes but does not care that she is a slave attempting to escape, and gives her passage to Charleston, America. Once again free, Althea adopts the name Adalia and makes an independent living as a doctor’s assistant, her mother’s knowledge of herbs aiding her in treating the sick. Having been born free, Adalia convincingly sheds the physical and mental shackles of slave-like behaviour and manages to integrate herself as a servant girl in her new society, despite the bitterness she feels toward the wealthy whose slaves she has to treat.
It is that disgust towards those who think it is the most natural thing in the world to own another human being that makes Adalia completely immune to the charms of one Morgan Rutledge, the youngest son of a wealthy plantation owner. His good looks and fun-loving nature hides the fact that Morgan is a very unhappy young man. He has dreams of sailing the seas, but once his father noticed his love of the ocean as a child he was told in no uncertain terms that he would be disowned should he take a common traders job. Instead of following the passion God had placed in his heart, Morgan’s life is spent attending one meaningless soiree after the other with less than savoury friends; until he meets the one woman who does not fall at his feet in the hopes of securing his affection, and by extension his family’s wealth.
The more they cross paths, the more Adalia begins to think she misjudged the young man. Thanks to Adalia’s gentle example, Morgan, in turn, finds himself rethinking his lifestyle and his beliefs. Adalia and Morgan embark on a tentative friendship, but society is not as accepting as Morgan is of a lowly working girl attending their lavish parties - with one of the most eligible bachelors at her side, no less. The men are rude and the ladies are cruel, and while Morgan is astounded by Adalia’s bravery and grace, he fears that ultimately the behaviour of those he used to consider friends will alienate the woman quickly laying claim to his heart. Working hard by day and getting swept away in the opulence of high society by night, Adalia she finds herself neglecting her relationship with God. The unlikely couple soon finds themselves falling in love; but how can Adalia even consider a courtship with a man whose family owns slaves? And what if he ever discovered her heritage? Would the beauty, bravery, intelligence and kind heart that captured his affections be strong enough to overcome the danger to his prized reputation and society’s prejudice?
Veil of Pearls by Marylu Tyndall is the most beautifully written book I’ve read in a long time. The prose is lovingly crafted and the plot is flawless. It is a story of great depth, believable characters (though the Villain in the form of the conniving lady Emerald was a bit too much to bear at times) and strong Christian message of hope and redemption. Even so, I did find this book very difficult to read. Tyndall accomplishes the amazing task of immersing the reader in Adalia’s life, and her hurts were my own. I absolutely hated experiencing the treatment Adalia had to suffer, first through Sir Walter, then through the Charleston elite. Every attempt at hurting or humiliating Adalia brought me pain as well. What a marvelous feat by the author! Tyndalll does an excellent job of keeping the reader off balance. At no stage was I confident that Adalia (or myself) would get a happy ending, and as I neared the end I feared there simply weren’t enough pages to wrap the story up to my heart’s content. Ultimately Veil of Pearls is a work of art worthy of my highest rating.
Title: Veil of Pearls
Title: Veil of Pearls
Author: Marylu Tyndall
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc