My family and I visited the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville while visiting friends a few years ago. While we had visited other Civil War battle grounds and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, my favorite part of the vacation was learning the history of this grand home.
When I discovered Tamera Alexander’s novel, To Whisper Her Name, a Belle Meade Plantation novel, I had to buy it. I was not disappointed. I loved this book, which is the first in a series, so now I have to find the other books. Since I have actually been to the plantation, the setting brought back memories of my trip. I even dug out my pictures, some of which I share here.
Since it has been a few years, the story of the family has grown a bit hazy. If anything, now I want to go back and learn more about them. I remember seeing bullet holes and the tour guide sharing with us about how the Union and Confederate troops fought around the mansion. I remember how one of the daughters was on the porch cheering for the Confederates, and a soldier entreated her to get back inside for her own safety. While I know To Whisper Her Name is fiction, I know Alexander wove bits of historical fact within its pages about Belle Meade Plantation, a famous thoroughbred stud farm before the Civil War, and the family that lived there.
To Whisper Her Name is the story about Olivia, a widow who fears horses, who has come to live at Belle Meade after the murder of her traitorous husband, and about Ridley, a Southern man who fought for the Union and lost his family in the process, who comes to work at Belle Meade. Only one person knows his secret, former slave, Uncle Bob. This tension filled romance keeps readers on their toes to the very end. This is a great story of how each person can make a big difference in the lives of others and how choices come with a price.
As Uncle Bob said, “‘Life is full of choices, ma’am. Most we live once, then move on and forget. But others,’—he narrowed his eyes—‘we live a thousand times over and remember for the rest of our days. What’s important is knowin’ how to tell ’em apart. And then decidin’ if you’s willin’ to pay the price. ’Cause choices. . . they always come at a price.’”
This great book was published in 2012 by Zondervan. I hope you’ll find a copy. Do you have a book to recommend? Let me know as I always enjoy hearing recommendations to add to my reading list.