The Bed She Was Born In by Jeri Fitzgerald Board

This excellent historical novel covers the period from 1865 to 1941 and is set near Goldsboro and Bentonville in eastern North Carolina. The action is seen through the eyes of four women, two white and two black. Several times during the book, the author mentions that a character is lying in “the bed she was born in,” which to me implies stability. There is stability in the relationships between theBed characters in the book, but the times are anything but stable, with the horrible events of the Civil War, the end of slavery, social changes such as women’s suffrage, and the dark days of World War I and the Depression. In the early part of the novel, Adaire Sanderson, a young widow, defends her belongings against Sherman’s troops and helps in a field hospital for the wounded at the Battle of Bentonville. In 1885, Millie, a young woman born into slavery, is attacked and her life almost ruined, but she overcomes difficulty to use her talents and to become an important part of the Sanderson family, which once enslaved her. In 1905, Anna McLean marries into the Sanderson family and begins a life filled with problems–a handicapped child and a difficult husband. Yet she takes part in the events of her day, especially becoming interested in the women’s suffrage movement. A liasion between a black teenager and a white girl affects both their families for years to come. Finally, Maddie Gaston, left penniless by the Depression, enters the Sanderson family as a maid and cook, enriching their lives. I especially enjoyed reading about the warm relationships among some of the characters.

The author is a former professor at Duke and a retired UNC administrator.

(Helen Snow, Information Services)

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