A must read,
This review is from: The Life of a Slave Girl (Paperback)
If you were like me and thought you had an idea what the life of a slave must have been like, then think again and read this!
I understood that slaves were bought and sold by rich whites to work on their estates in order to maximise profit. In my ignorance I did not appreciate, until reading this book, the extent to which a slave was actually completely and utterly owned. That ownership was absolute and extended to the offspring of women slaves also, so there was a never ending supply of slaves into the future. It was shocking to find out that a slave owner left their slaves to their offspring in their will in EXACTLY the same way as we leave objects of worth such as a home to ours. This meant that a slave who had worked for decades for a mistress could, on the death of that mistress, find herself the slave of the deceased's daughter (who may be very young indeed, e.g. 3yrs old in one example in this book).
The book also tells of the torture and abuse that was systematically handed out to slaves with importunity by the 'civilised' whites.
For the most part the events of Harriet's life are told in a somewhat cool tone; you are told what happens, but she doesn't then pour over the emotional distress she feels, but leaves it for the reader to imagine. On occasions she comes across as extremely forgiving, understanding and genuinely sorry for some of the kinder slave owners who she felt were also being brutalised (emotionally at least) by this evil system.
This is, as everyone knows, an incredibly important book, and whilst the style may seem old fashioned to some, I found it an easy but always troubling read.