Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

Harrowing story that follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia. Yellow Wife is inspired by real lives of Mary and Robert Lumpkin and The Lumpkin Jail located in Richmond, Virginia from 1830 through The Civil War.

Lindsay’s review

A powerful, well-written, intriguing and harrowing story that sheds light on one of the worst times in our history – slavery. Slaves are at the centre of this story set in the 1850’s – on a plantation and in a prison setting. The way the slaves are treated is horrific, devastating and sickening. This book provides some insight on what it took for the slaves to survive both physically and mentally.

I was fascinated to see the way in which the slaves created a sense of family and belonging within their own community. As horrid and awful as their situations were, they found ways to be happy and thankful within their own circle of family. A true testament to the strength of the human spirit.

While I really liked the main character, Pheby, I felt as though she was kept an arms length away, preventing me from an emotional connection. I felt for her, but not deeply. This book was not as heavy as I had anticipated and it took me a third of the way to feel an investment in the story. I had hoped for a much more intense emotional connection which made this slightly disappointing even though I did enjoy the entire book and appreciated learning about this time in our history. The authors note at the end makes this book more impactful as it explains how the author was inspired by true events.

A beautifully written historical fiction novel that I recommend.

For Brenda’s review please click to listen to it below

3 thoughts on “Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson”

  1. Thank you for having the courage to read and review this important work. It gives me heart to continue on my work, which is in a similar vein.

    Best regards,


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