Sugar for Blood
By Andrea Stuart
Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95, 384 pages
Sugar In the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart is an autobiographical timeline of her family’s history. Tracing her family back to the 1600s, Andrea is able to follow their movements through history starting with her original white ancestor and his trek to Barbados, where he settles as a lowly planter of sugar cane. Then we meet his wife and children and watch them grow, and all the while the world around them is transformed by the siren’s song of sugar. We watch her white family rise through society; they start to own larger holdings, they buy more slaves, and all the while her history unfolds as we see her white ancestors begin to mix with her black ancestors.
This is a story full of detail, and Andrea skillfully paints an accurate picture of the history of Barbados. Readers will learn about the beginnings of the American slave trade, the abolitionist movements in France, Spain and England, and the history and production of sugar and how it came to be so pervasive.
Andrea could not have written it better if she had tried. She leaves nothing out – no stone unturned, no torrid affair between master and slave hidden. Three thumbs up.
Reviewed by Nicole Green