Cover Image: Pale

Pale

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Member Reviews

“We’re slaves to our circumstances.”

“Do birds remain in winter when that cold threatens their livelihood? Do migrants stay in one place where there is no food left to keep them?”

“No one makes us into anything.” I said sternly. “What we do is our own choice, but it’s a choice that’s laden with scars, Fletcher.” It’s crippled by the things we’ve had done to us and the things they continue to do.”

Pale is the story of two families, one white and one black living on a Southern plantation in the 1960s. Slavery may be over but Bernice and her extended family are as much stuck as any black family ever was as slaves. The Kerns family lords over them and inflicts all sorts of psychological torture and airs of superiority as any white family would over their servants.

The racial inequality drips from every word and action. But each character is tortured by their past, their circumstances and the uncertainty of the future. There are many secrets that keeps these two families intertwined and miserable.

Powerful read that was beautifully written!
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This novel is expansive. The word may be overused, but this book earns it. There's a good flow between descriptions of the land, squabbles, lies, loves, burdens, and racism at the Kern plantation in mid-20th-c Mississippi. The narrator’s descriptive gaze gives each detail and observation a decades-long scope. While the Missus is chaotic in a way that isn't ever quite made clear, the arc of her decline is mapped with great patience.
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This book is so rich in language and imagery.  I felt like I was really in the Delta! This book was also a page-turner but I turned each page with dread and trepidation as I worried what would happen to the victims of the life-altering manipulations of the plantation owners.  I would recommend this book to adult readers.
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Title: Pale
Author: Edward Farmer
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four
Review:

"Pale" by Edward Farmer

My Speculation:

I found 'Pale' quite an engaging read where we find Bernice going to live with her brother, Floyd, in the 1960s in Mississippi, who worked on a cotton plantation. What a story of how this Missus was one very deceptive, petty, and vindictive person that caused all kinds of trouble for everyone, which included her husband. Yes, what she was trying to do was to soothe her wounds. What will turn out from all of this is after the Missus dies, there will be more secrets and lies of the family that worked for them will come out. Be ready for a story of where "there is a thin line between servant and slave and how revengeful choices can define and change lives for generations." I will say this was quite a sad story even at the end of what happened. 

I would like to thank Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of this book.
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This is one of those books that creeps up on you. That the ploy slowly unravels - like a hot Mississippi summer. 

Set in post Jim Crow Mississippi, Pale is the story of Jesse and Bernice, two siblings, living and working on a plantation. The house is full of secrets, revenge and unimaginable cruelty. 

This is a beautifully written book, with language that could be poetry. It's a powerful LOUD story, told in a soft and gentle voice. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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This is a quiet book, not a lot of action happens.  There is a log of dialogue between the characters, mostly about the ‘Missus’ of the house who routinely suffers from various maladies, she will have seizures on occasion and will become bedridden for days at a time, she’s looked after by Bernice and Silva, another black servant. The story is told from the POV of Bernice who accepts her brother’s invitation to join him at a plantation owned by a white man in rural Mississippi in the latter part of the 1960’s.  Bernice and her brother are black and the time period was not a good one for black folk.  For the most part the servants remain on the property, very rarely do they venture outside of the plantation boundary. The Missus has a temper, especially when she figures out that her husband had fathered a child while they were married, she takes her revenge on that child.  One of questions raised by one of the sons of Bernice, who also works at the plantation, is whether they are slaves. The response was they are a slave to their circumstance, too poor to leave they are trapped doing the jobs they do until they, literally, die. I enjoyed the story and found parts of it eye opening, I recommend it.  Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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This was a beautiful book that examines how people can weave a web of control, angst, pain, and betrayal around each other, and the many types of insidious control exerted over black people in the 60s South even though they were technically not slaves anymore. This book is written incredibly well and though some may find the plot a bit slow-paced, I think it did a great job of building so much tension into each scene that you could crack the air like ice. While it's certainly not a happy story, it's engaging, breathless, and will keep you reading until the end.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for a truthful review.
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I'm feeling a bit conflicted about this book.  It is the story of Bernice whose husband leaves with all of her savings and does not return or call for her to come meet him.  Bernice decides to move to Mississippi to live with her brother to work on a cotton plantation.  The missus in the story is deception and vindictive.  A story of family, lies and secrets hid.  Love the authors description, I could picture the story in my head so vividly.  My only conflict, that it was a story that left me feeling a bit depressed.  A sad story in general,  not one to read if your feeling down already.  Otherwise, written beautifully and a great debut book by Edward A Farmer.  Thank you to Netgalley for ebook in exchange for my honest review.
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Strong debut novel about race and class set in the late 1960’s in Mississippi. Publication date May 19, 2020.
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Is this really a debut novel? the description is it is so beautiful without  dragging down the book like most descriptive books do. A very well job done. 


Synopsis: : The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family and she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.

The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest and the appearance of Jesse and Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed and destroy the lives of the rest of the servants.
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Edward Farmer's engrossing debut, Pale, begins in 1966 in the burning heat of Mississippi, when Bernice, whose husband left with all their savings and didn't return, accepts her brothers invitation to join him in working on a cotton plantation.

She is slowly immersed into a household full of secrets, deception, revenge, and downright cruelty, which revolves around two young brothers who come to work on the plantation. One becomes a pawn to enact revenge, and the other is mistreated, lied to, and trapped by the choices of others. 

As the story slowly unfolds, we see that for some, there is a thin line between servant and slave, and how revengeful choices can define and change lives through generations. 

People who like novels set in the south, will love the author’s rich descriptions of rural Mississippi, including the cotton fields, jacaranda, cicadas, and pestering summer heat.  What a great debut!
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Was very  interesting book,  we will never know how someone else feels :about their self!  When you're of mixed parents.  This in it's self makes many differences Such as Black /White;  Asian/White and so forth.
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An engrossing story that builds slowly as it pulls you into the middle of a class/ race battle lived in a short period of time in Mississippi.  Edward Farmer writes as if he lived the story. He introduces us to a cross section of southern characters just trying to survive in a climate when times were changing very slowly and not always in a good way.  As the wife of the owner of a cotton plantation sets in motion a series of events meant to ease her pride and soothe her wounds, the tension builds slowly until the explosion blows apart the expectations of every member of this cast.  DO NOT try to read this book a little bit at a time.  Once you start, you will not want to stop.
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I was frustrated reading this book. The beginning was strong; the protagonist Bernice's backstory was set up well, and the introduction of the characters and a main plot point was very good. I was almost expecting a reinvention of the Southern Gothic genre. But Bernice's story quickly gives in wholly to the story of the Kern household, who Bernice works for. The isolation of the characters on a plantation, the vagueness of timeline, and Bernice's voice kept making me forget this book took place in 1966 and not the 1840s, which is perhaps what the author was going for, but I found it difficult to keep in mind. The pace of the story is very slow and very tense, making the last act of the book predictable and rushed. A third of the book could have been taken out and I would have been fine.
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Pale is a sad story about a web of secrets and lies that torment a cotton plantation in South Carolina in the 1960s. 
This is an interesting portrayal of life in the south and the terribly complex relationships between a white plantation owner and his vindictive wife, and their black servants. I like this author’s writing style. The subject and the storytelling style fit perfectly together. I would like to thank Netgalley, the publisher and the author for providing me with an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of this book. 
#Pale #NetGalley
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This is well-written, but I struggled with the large cast, which was angry or negative in some way. I also didn't see the point (not that there has to be one) in the end. Depressing. But if you like drama this is for you.

I really appreciate the copy for review!
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Pale reads and feels like Mississippi - it is slow and rich like molasses, viscous as it slowly drips from a wooden spoon. Set in the 1960's, it focuses on life on a rural cotton plantation. Bernice, a young black woman abandoned by her husband, joins her brother working on a Mississippi cotton plantation. She finds herself in a tragic and unhappy milieu, surrounded by nothing but broken dreams, rampant deceit, and vicious vengeance.

Mr. Farmer's story line is secondary to the exploration of his characters' psychologies and motivations. An the author's imagery borders on poetic... you can almost feel the hot, humid stillness of the plantation. You can almost smell the magnolias. 

This is a thought-provoking book that portrays a way of life that could easily have been set in the 1860's. The racism and traditional social order portrayed as occurring in the 1960's was surprising to me - that's more a comment on my own naivety, I am sure. 

The real star of this book is the prose. Mr. Farmer paints with his words, and he paints slowly. He paints as slowly as one would imagine someone needing to escape Mississippi's sultry midday sweltering by simply sitting and sipping a sweet tea while retiring to the faint coolness of some shade. The subject and the storytelling style fit perfectly together.
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A web of secrets and lies bedevil a cotton plantation in South Carolina in the 1960s.  Complex relationships among the owner and his wife and their servants create constant underlying tension.  Narrated by Bernice, one of the servants, this debut novel does a decent job of tying this all together.  The character of the “Missus” was somewhat overdrawn.  On the other hand, Fletcher, a tormented biracial character, was very well drawn.  3.5 rounded up to 4.
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Pale is a sad story about three families living and working under one roof. Bernice and her brother Floyd work together along side Silva, the indoor do all house servant, while her sons - Jesse and Fletcher-work the cotton fields under Floyd’s tutelage. These two black families become ensnared in the web of misery spun by the house’s matriarch “the Missus” and her husband Mr. Kern. As the story goes on we become aware of Mr. Kerns indifference toward his beautiful yet spiteful wife, and the Missus’s heartache of the long ago loss of her only daughter. We soon find out that Fletcher is the “pale” son of Mr. Kern and the servant Silva, whom the Missus has made the target of her spite, setting out to make is life as miserable as she feels. The missus works a patient, yet potent, eventually successful plot to keep Silva and her family bound to the plantation and the Kerns forever.

I have to say that this story did drag on for quite sometime, so much so that when the revelations were revealed it was very anti-climactic. The author clearly has talent, theres no doubt about this but when every character has a sad story to tell which turns out to seem not a story at all it’s hard to keep turning the pages. I am grateful for the free copy received from Net Galley and look forward to Farmer’s future works.
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This is an engaging debut novel set in the summer of 1966 Mississippi. Bernice takes a job with a white family on the advice of her brother. The house is not a happy one, and the “Missus” is a petty, vindictive woman out for revenge on most anyone who looks at her wrong. Secrets, lies and betrayal run rampant within and outside of the house, between men and women who should by all accounts get along with one another. There was a constant tension running through the characters while reading, and I was  expecting something very bad to happen. The bad was a series of minor events that became major ones. I have some difficulty describing the story; there were many characters, a lot of racism and winding threads that sometimes made it hard to follow. Nothing horrible happened, it’s more a cautionary tale of who do you trust, and to trust no one. There was so much back-stabbing and treachery it was a little depressing, albeit a fascinating look at human dynamics, and how different people thrown together under similar circumstances react and overreact. I was a bit confused by the timeline and setting; I thought this was a more likely scenario 10 years earlier or more. However, I grew up in GA, not MS. Overall it was an intriguing read, and I look forward to reading more from this author. Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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