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Book: Fireburn by Apple Gidley

Book Review: Fireburn by Apple Gidley

categories: Book, St Croix, US Virgin Islands, Danish West Indies, Sugar Industry, Emancipation, Slavery, Interracial Relationships, Education, Denmark, Fireburn, Caribbean, Historical Fiction


Apple Gidley

Author Apple Gidleyabout this book: Fireburn tells the story of a little-known historical event in the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands). It is a love story - for an island, for a man, for a child.

2017 is the centennial of the US purchase of St Croix and the other islands that made up the Danish West Indies. In 2013 I attended the Transfer Day ceremonies and, listening to various speakers, my interest was piqued. The history was intriguing and an idea for a book was born - a book which would give different perspectives of the same event - Fireburn, also known as The Great Trashing, was a worker rebellion in 1878, 30 years after emancipation. Fireburn, the book, is told in 4 different voices: Anna, an Anglo-Danish woman and daughter of the plantation owner; Ivy, her white East End maid; Emiline, the black cook and local weed woman; and Sampson, the black estate foreman.

The cover for Fireburn was painted by a Crucian artist, Danica M David, which I believe captures the essence of the event, and the story.

This book, 4 years in the making, has involved delving into the past in an area of the world in which I had little knowledge - it has been a fascinating exploration into the times, the events and social mores of an age long gone. The story highlights the hidden strengths of women, sometimes in an environment or dealing with events wholly alien. It touches on issues of race and freedom and leads into the sequel, with a working title of Transfer of the Crown, which revolves around the 30 years leading to the US purchase.

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 Engaging and compelling

An enjoyable and very engaging read! The compelling characters face challenges in love and life amidst the richly described island life of St Croix's eighteenth century sugar industry. A great story, and some fascinating Caribbean history. [by Kay Chapman]

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