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Jessamine (Historical Fiction)

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Grace Hylton arrives on the Caribbean island of St. Crescens full of doubts about her husband’s political aspirations, doubts about her marriage and doubts about the wisdom of relocating. Her native-born husband, Julian, has lived most of his adult life in the States but has come back to St. Crescens, determined to pull his country out of the cauldron of corruption, nepoti Grace Hylton arrives on the Caribbean island of St. Crescens full of doubts about her husband’s political aspirations, doubts about her marriage and doubts about the wisdom of relocating. Her native-born husband, Julian, has lived most of his adult life in the States but has come back to St. Crescens, determined to pull his country out of the cauldron of corruption, nepotism and crime into which the leading political dynasty has taken it. An architect by training, Julian buys and restores Jessamine, an old Great House. What the Hyltons don’t know is that Jessamine is home to the ghost of Arabella Adams who lived there as a governess during the late 1800s. Jessamine is told from the alternating viewpoints of the two women – both foreigners, both married to local men. An old injustice binds them across the century that separates them, but can Grace discover its roots before St. Crescens is plunged into violence and chaos? Caribbean fiction, historical fiction, African American historical fiction


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Grace Hylton arrives on the Caribbean island of St. Crescens full of doubts about her husband’s political aspirations, doubts about her marriage and doubts about the wisdom of relocating. Her native-born husband, Julian, has lived most of his adult life in the States but has come back to St. Crescens, determined to pull his country out of the cauldron of corruption, nepoti Grace Hylton arrives on the Caribbean island of St. Crescens full of doubts about her husband’s political aspirations, doubts about her marriage and doubts about the wisdom of relocating. Her native-born husband, Julian, has lived most of his adult life in the States but has come back to St. Crescens, determined to pull his country out of the cauldron of corruption, nepotism and crime into which the leading political dynasty has taken it. An architect by training, Julian buys and restores Jessamine, an old Great House. What the Hyltons don’t know is that Jessamine is home to the ghost of Arabella Adams who lived there as a governess during the late 1800s. Jessamine is told from the alternating viewpoints of the two women – both foreigners, both married to local men. An old injustice binds them across the century that separates them, but can Grace discover its roots before St. Crescens is plunged into violence and chaos? Caribbean fiction, historical fiction, African American historical fiction

44 review for Jessamine (Historical Fiction)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    Grace Hylton is an African-American woman married to a man, Julian, from the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Crescens. Grace moves to the island to be with her husband who is running for election. Soon afterwards, Grace starts getting visits by a ghost of a woman who died over a century before and decides to help solve a mystery. I really enjoyed this book. Having visited the Caribbean and lived in the tropics for some years the descriptions of the nature as well as the quirky "country folk" Grace Hylton is an African-American woman married to a man, Julian, from the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Crescens. Grace moves to the island to be with her husband who is running for election. Soon afterwards, Grace starts getting visits by a ghost of a woman who died over a century before and decides to help solve a mystery. I really enjoyed this book. Having visited the Caribbean and lived in the tropics for some years the descriptions of the nature as well as the quirky "country folk" were very nostalgic to me. The descriptions were so vivid and colourful and kind of made me feel homesick (or at least long to see tropical flowers!). I loved the book's intrigue and also the topics raised in the book such as: - Being an outsider in a close-knit community - The injustice some people have/have had to live with - Corruption -Racial tension -The difficulties faced moving to a culture that's not your own. - The fact that it's not all a bed of roses on the tropical islands we so long to vacation in. The structure of the book was another aspect I really liked ;the chapters alternate between Grace's viewpoint, and also Arabella's (the ghost's). Seeing how their stories were tied together was very interesting. A great read!

  2. 4 out of 5

    William Doonan

    I just finished this book last night, and I already wish I hadn’t. I know St. Crescens isn’t a real island, but it sure felt real. As a child, I lived in the Caribbean for three years, and as an adult, I’ve found my way back again and again. At the age of nine, living in Puerto Rico, I looked forward to the regular puddle-jumping seaplane rides over to St. Thomas. I looked forward to that, not only because I loved the people, the beaches, the stores, the neighborhoods, and the smell of the wind, I just finished this book last night, and I already wish I hadn’t. I know St. Crescens isn’t a real island, but it sure felt real. As a child, I lived in the Caribbean for three years, and as an adult, I’ve found my way back again and again. At the age of nine, living in Puerto Rico, I looked forward to the regular puddle-jumping seaplane rides over to St. Thomas. I looked forward to that, not only because I loved the people, the beaches, the stores, the neighborhoods, and the smell of the wind, but also because my favorite restaurant was on St. Thomas. It was called Arby’s; little did I know it was not one of a kind. All this to say that reading this book felt like going home. The Caribbean has a pace to it, a smell to it, a rhythm and a cadence to it, and all of this comes across in the book. Jessamine is a ghost story, but the whole Caribbean is a ghost story – that’s an inevitable legacy of strife and torment and desire and tenacity. Jessamine is also a love story, as much about time and place as about actual lovers. And Jessamine is a mystery, compelling and bold. Eugenia O’Neal has woven a beautiful, aching, thrilling tale, as warm a story as I’ve read in a long while.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    Miss O’Neal’s novel is a story of tragic love, greed and political rivalry fought on one island in two different centuries. The two women have very different voices and the author portrays the starkness of the 19th century as opposed to the more enlightened, but equally segregated 21st very well. I found Arabella’s voice to be the strongest and her story the more touching and tragic, but maybe this is because it is clear from the beginning that she needs Grace’s help to gain closure to her life. Miss O’Neal’s novel is a story of tragic love, greed and political rivalry fought on one island in two different centuries. The two women have very different voices and the author portrays the starkness of the 19th century as opposed to the more enlightened, but equally segregated 21st very well. I found Arabella’s voice to be the strongest and her story the more touching and tragic, but maybe this is because it is clear from the beginning that she needs Grace’s help to gain closure to her life. I did find the island dialect a little hard to get used to, but then I am a London girl so it was almost a different language, however the parallels of the two women’s lives are cleverly drawn and by the end I had come to admire Grace’s tenacity to unearth the truth and not be intimidated by her husband’s enemies, as much as I did Arabella’s courage to defy convention and cross the race divide.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Jessamine by Eugenia O’Neal is an intoxicating blend of mystery, history, and romance of two women linked by history but separated by time. American Grace Hylton is both excited and nervous about relocating to the Caribbean island, St. Crescens. She is excited about seeing her husband, Julian, after a six-month separation, yet nervous on what this next stage in her life will bring. Architect Julian Hylton is pleased that his wife will be by his side as he pursues his dream to lead his country ou Jessamine by Eugenia O’Neal is an intoxicating blend of mystery, history, and romance of two women linked by history but separated by time. American Grace Hylton is both excited and nervous about relocating to the Caribbean island, St. Crescens. She is excited about seeing her husband, Julian, after a six-month separation, yet nervous on what this next stage in her life will bring. Architect Julian Hylton is pleased that his wife will be by his side as he pursues his dream to lead his country out of political corruption and nepotism. Big city-loving Grace is stunned by her new home as it is a palatial plantation home called Jessamine sitting on top of a hill looking down on the town and will require a staff of servants to maintain. While Julian is aware that such an extravagant home may damage his credibility with the voting population, he hopes this home eases Grace’s transition into Caribbean life. But, Jessamine has a tortured past and one of the former residents wants her say. When Grace can no longer ignore the headaches, voices, and images of a young woman crying for help, she uses her reporter skills to research who this ghost, Arabella, is, and why Arabella is speaking to her. O’Neal, a born storyteller, carefully crafts a story within a story, as both Grace and Arabella tell their stories in alternating chapters. Arabella’s is the world of 1800s in the Caribbean and Grace’s is the present Caribbean world, yet both women have more in common that meets the eye; both are foreign women in love with native-born Caribbeans, both husbands had political ambitions that went against the grain of their times, and both stories have underlying current of violence to hold back the tide of change. Arabella’s is the most compelling story, and readers will root for Arabella to rest in peace. The story falls into a steady rhythm, with enough twists and turns to have the reader wondering will truth triumph over greed. The riveting storylines, well-defined characters, realistic drama and the excellent balance between the past and present makes for a fascinating read. I recommend this book to readers looking for a delightful adventure romance along with historical backdrop blended with mystery and a hint of the paranormal. This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Reviewed by Beverly APOOO Literary Book Review

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jadaloves

    Jessamine is a fascinating story that uses alternate POV’s of Arabella and Grace to tell dual stories reflecting the past and present day. Grace moves to the island of St. Crescens to support her husband Julian in his political ambition to become the new Prime Minister. But when she arrives on the island, she is met with hostility from the locals and Julian’s own grandmother. And event though Julian, an accomplished architect, ha renovated the old Jessamine estate, the house still holds traces o Jessamine is a fascinating story that uses alternate POV’s of Arabella and Grace to tell dual stories reflecting the past and present day. Grace moves to the island of St. Crescens to support her husband Julian in his political ambition to become the new Prime Minister. But when she arrives on the island, she is met with hostility from the locals and Julian’s own grandmother. And event though Julian, an accomplished architect, ha renovated the old Jessamine estate, the house still holds traces of the past that prove to haunt Grace. Fueled by her visions of Arabella, Grace embarks on a mission to uncover the identity of the mystery woman and figure out what she wants. Arabella’s story is probably the most compelling of the two. She comes to Jessamine to act as Governess for the three small Threllfall children. But when she meets and falls in love with Leando Joseph, a Black business owner, she defies convention and marries the man she loves. But Arabella is living in the midst of high racial tensions, an economic downfall, and political unrest. With people who despise her looking to her husband for leadership and direction, the couple is destined for tragedy in such a volatile time. I love how the author presents the reader with the two different stories and how the past and present end up colliding with each other. And while their personal journies differ, many of the events of the times reflect each other. There is political unrest in both the past and present. Making the atmosphere of St. Crescens strained and dangerous for everyone. Both Arabella and Grace and their families experience threats and cruelty from those who currently hold power, and both ladies are married to intelligent businessmen, determined to make life better for their people. What I can appreciate most about Jessamine is how the author took real historical events of the Caribbean and used them as a historical basis for her novel. The reflection of real events were expertly weaved into the novel, making it more interesting, and definitely more authentic. Overall I loved the book. Though I was more captivated by Arabella’s story, I was still fascinated by Grace and the mystery surrounding and connecting both women. I don’t quite know how to classify this book, but regardless, it is

  6. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    3.5 Stars The combination of the cover and the synopsis of Jessamine made me think that I was about to read a scary ghost story. While is a ghost story, it's not scary. It's more two women trying to fit into a small island, St. Crescens. The women, Arabella (the ghost) and Grace are outsiders and move to St. Crescens for different reasons. But they both find it hard to fit into St. Crescens society. Jessamine was filled with all my favorite elements. It had strong female characters, historical fi 3.5 Stars The combination of the cover and the synopsis of Jessamine made me think that I was about to read a scary ghost story. While is a ghost story, it's not scary. It's more two women trying to fit into a small island, St. Crescens. The women, Arabella (the ghost) and Grace are outsiders and move to St. Crescens for different reasons. But they both find it hard to fit into St. Crescens society. Jessamine was filled with all my favorite elements. It had strong female characters, historical fiction, and an excellent location. O'Neal did a wonderful job describing the fictitious island of St. Crescen and it's rich history. In fact, if St. Crescen were a real island I would have put it on one of the places that I have to visit. That is how well O'Neal created the world surrounding Jessamine While Grace and Arabella were strong characters. Arabella was the stronger of the two. Her story was more detailed and readers got to know her better. One of the problems that I had with the story that as a main character I thought that Grace was a little weak. Especially when compared to Arabella. Her character needed to be more "well rounded" and her storyline more detailed. Another flaw for me was that the ending seemed to be a little rushed. Everything happened so fast and I wished that O'Neal would have drawn it out a little more. It might have made Grace a better main character. Overall: I really enjoyed reading Jessamine and wouldn't hesitate to recommend Jessamine to other readers that have the same taste as mine. I am looking forward to read more by Eugenia O'neal. *Disclaimer: Author provided a me with a review copy of Jessamine in exchange for an honest review. This is a shorter version of a longer review that can be found on my blog.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lady

    I've been on a historical fiction kick lately, and looking for more and more to gobble up. Jessamine was recommended to me by the author and I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading. Grace Hylton, has joined her husband, Julian on the island of St. Crescens. Where he's determined to overthrow the current political regime with a new political party developed with the citizens interest and well being in mind. As she adjusts to the island past and present collide causing her to question, i I've been on a historical fiction kick lately, and looking for more and more to gobble up. Jessamine was recommended to me by the author and I wasn't sure what to expect when I began reading. Grace Hylton, has joined her husband, Julian on the island of St. Crescens. Where he's determined to overthrow the current political regime with a new political party developed with the citizens interest and well being in mind. As she adjusts to the island past and present collide causing her to question, is there more truth than what she's known. The story was told from two points of view, one from the past and the other in present tense. Once I became acclimated to this transition, the story flowed rhythmically. I'm glad Ms. O'Neal took the time to recommend this book to me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    OOSA

    The Wall Have Secrets Grace and Julian Hylton are married. Grace stayed in Philadelphia while Julian went back to the Caribbean island of St.Crescens,his home. St.Crescens is in turmoil. Julian is involved with the People's National Party. Grace gives up everything and moves to St.Crescens to be with her husband. Julian purchases an old home, Jessamine. Neither is aware that Jessamine is still inhabited by the ghost of a former resident. Eugenia O'Neal’s “Jessamine” deals with violence, corruption The Wall Have Secrets Grace and Julian Hylton are married. Grace stayed in Philadelphia while Julian went back to the Caribbean island of St.Crescens,his home. St.Crescens is in turmoil. Julian is involved with the People's National Party. Grace gives up everything and moves to St.Crescens to be with her husband. Julian purchases an old home, Jessamine. Neither is aware that Jessamine is still inhabited by the ghost of a former resident. Eugenia O'Neal’s “Jessamine” deals with violence, corruption, politics and greed. It is a book great to stimulate conversation in book clubs, a good read for its historical content, and for natives of the Caribbean to tear apart and delve into deep issues of aristocratic flavor. However, I found “Jessamine” to be long and tedious. The author spent a lot of time describing Jessamine and the island of St. Crescens. Much of it was not necessary. I loved the ending of the book and I was surprised that it ended the way it did but elated. Because of the tediousness, I have to rate “Jessamine” 3.5 stars. Reviewed by: Marilyn 3.5 stars

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Excellent book. I will definitely have to look for more from this author.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Suzy Bowler

    I loved everything about this book - excellent gripping story, great use of language, believable, haunting and very evocative of the islands which I know so well. I can't recommend this enough! I loved everything about this book - excellent gripping story, great use of language, believable, haunting and very evocative of the islands which I know so well. I can't recommend this enough!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Glamazini

  12. 5 out of 5

    duma

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  14. 5 out of 5

    georgia long

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alvenne

  16. 4 out of 5

    Swarnali Das

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rooster

  18. 5 out of 5

    Felicia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

  21. 4 out of 5

    Juniper

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mridupawan Podder

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Davies

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Reed

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tara Chevrestt

  27. 4 out of 5

    Darcy Stewart

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (Workaday Reads)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Staci Perkins

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  32. 4 out of 5

    MaryannC. Book Freak

  33. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

  34. 5 out of 5

    Larissa

  35. 4 out of 5

    Rosina

  36. 5 out of 5

    Melki

  37. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Tyler

  38. 4 out of 5

    Connieb

  39. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  40. 5 out of 5

    Wrighty

  41. 5 out of 5

    Shivanee Ramlochan

  42. 4 out of 5

    Dana

  43. 5 out of 5

    CaliGirlRae

  44. 4 out of 5

    Shauna

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