PaperBackSwap Blog

Historical Fiction Review – The Book of Night Women

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James



Review by Susan R. (Sue-in-AZ)


Story Synopsis

This story follows a few years in the life of Lilith, a young girl in Jamaica in the late 1700’s early 1800’s.  Lilith is a slave on a sugar plantation. Her mother died as Lilith was born, and she has no idea of who her father might be. But everyone else around her knows exactly who her father is, and it’s clear from the start of the story that her father is white.

Lilith is taken under the wing of Homer – an older woman who runs the house.  Homer does the best she can to take care of Lilith, but being a slave herself, there is only so much that Homer can do for Lilith.  And Homer has many secrets that she half reveals to Lilith. As time goes by, Homer’s secrets paint a picture of the tragedy of her own life. And the clear comparison is that Lilith’s life will be the same tragedy all over again.

As Lilith grows up, she catches the eye of both the plantation owner and the overseer – with purely disastrous results.  There is a great deal of conflict between Lilith, the plantation owner, the plantation owner’s fiancé, and the overseer.  As the slave in this situation, Lilith bears the very vicious and brutal brunt of this entire conflict.

Overarching all the personal relationships is the state of slave relationships in Jamaica specifically and in the Caribbean in general.  Stories of previous slave revolts and the consequences are told throughout the story.  It’s very clear that Jamaica is well overdue for another slave revolt, and sure enough our characters are caught up right in the middle of impending events.


My Review

Not for the faint of heart!  This book includes extremely graphic and violent descriptions of slave life.

Having said that, this is a very compelling story.  All of the characters are extremely sympathetic.  The story is told from Lilith’s point of view, so you see everything through her eyes. And she takes us on a journey through the horrors of life as a slave.

Throughout the story, Lilith’s loyalties are divided between the slave women who’ve done their best to take care of her, and the white men (her father and her lover are both white) that she tries not to care for. In the end she is forced to make her choice and live with the consequences.





Tags: , ,

3 Responses to “Historical Fiction Review – The Book of Night Women”

  1. Sianeka N Hollywood, CA says:

    Not a book I’d normally have on my TBR list, but thanks to this review, added to my Reminder books!

  2. Brenna B. (demiducky25) says:

    I’ve added this to my Wishlist. I love reading the different reviews on the Blog since it exposes me to books I might not normally consider otherwise! 🙂

  3. Becki (beebs) says:

    Well written review. I’m adding this to my WL.

Leave a Reply