The American Queen

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Pub Date Jan 30 2024 | Archive Date Mar 08 2024

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Description

In 1869 a kingdom rose in the South. And Louella was its queen.

Over the twenty-four years she’s been enslaved on the Montgomery Plantation, Louella learned to feel one thing: hate. Hate for the man who sold her mother. Hate for the overseer who left her daddy to hang from a noose. Hate so powerful there’s no room in her heart for love, not even for the honorable Reverend William, whom she likes and respects enough to marry.

But when William finally listens to Louella’s pleas and leads the formerly enslaved people out of their plantation, Louella begins to replace her hate with hope. Hope that they will find a place where they can live free from fear. Hope that despite her many unanswered prayers, she can learn to trust for new miracles.

Soon, William and Louella become the appointed king and queen of their self-proclaimed Kingdom of the Happy Land. And though they are still surrounded by opposition, they continue to share a message of joy and goodness—and fight for the freedom and dignity of all.

Transformative and breathtakingly honest, The American Queen shares the unsung true history of a kingdom built as a refuge for the courageous people who dared to dream of a different way of life.

Extensive Publicity and Marketing Campaign including:

• Print and electronic galleys available for media and sales

• Promotions at national events such as ALA Conference and Essence Festival of Culture

• Goodreads, NetGalley, and blogger / influencer outreach to garner early reader reviews

• Early ARC mailings to booksellers, including Black-owned bookstores, and trade publications

• Targeted media outreach to secure features with outlets covering historical, women’s, and Christian fiction

• Dedicated e-mails to HCCP consumer and librarian lists

• National digital advertising campaign

• February 2024 Indie Next List (nominations due November 28, 2023) and January 2024 LibraryReads (nominations due December 1, 2023) promotional campaigns

• Social media promotions through HCCP, influencers, and author’s social channels – including cover reveal, tour news, giveaways, videos, and contests

• Vanessa will embark on a Southern tour in the states the Queen and King travel through on their way to the Happy Land: Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina

• Media inquiries: Margaret Kercher, margaret.kercher@harpercollins.com

In 1869 a kingdom rose in the South. And Louella was its queen.

Over the twenty-four years she’s been enslaved on the Montgomery Plantation, Louella learned to feel one thing: hate. Hate for the man...


Advance Praise

The American Queen brings to light another hidden triumph in Black American history. Queen Louella is frankly a woman that everyone should know. Filled with bravery and cultural beauty, this marvel of a novel transported me while educating me on the sheer determination of an emancipated community to not only survive but to also thrive.” —Sadeqa Johnson, NYT bestselling author of The House of Eve


The American Queen is beautifully told, a story rife with struggle, intrigue, and the indomitable spirit of a woman strong enough to carry the weight of a community, bold enough to dream the impossible, and determined enough to fashion dreams into reality. Louella Montgomery is a woman for the ages.” —Lisa Wingate, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Book of Lost Friends

The American Queen brings to light another hidden triumph in Black American history. Queen Louella is frankly a woman that everyone should know. Filled with bravery and cultural beauty, this marvel...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780840708878
PRICE $18.99 (USD)
PAGES 368

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Average rating from 108 members


Featured Reviews

This was soooooo good! I had been eagerly awaiting approval for this book and I wasn't disappointed! I loved every minute of it.
This author included one of my very favorite songs of all times. There is a balm in Gilead. Oh my how I love that tune. Another verse is There is a balm in Gilead that heals a sin sick soul.
That balm is our Lord Jesus Christ and here's a quote that's used twice in which loved because it is a gentle reminder.
Abigail reminding Louella “The truth is, everything didn’t go the way you planned it, but life can still be good, and we all still need your compassion and your guidance.”
This novel will leave you in tears in some places you'll be shaking your head at them.
The one I really didn't care much for was Robert.

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An amazing story of a group of freed slaves searching for a place of dignity and a place to call home.

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Louella Montgomery, The American Queen breaks silence with strength to beat down the barriers in the community of hate. Dividends of strength that barrel down the wall that society deems unworthy. This book speaks volumes that recognizing struggles with determination. Absolutely amazing and wonderfully written.

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The American Queen located in the historical fiction category piqued my curiosity with an immediacy that required satisfaction. The story is about the life of Louella Montgomery, former slave turned Queen of Happy Land.

It begins shortly before the Civil War ended, and the first chapter is a brutal one. The author stayed true to the times and did not shy away from the atrocities committed against enslaved African Americans - more than that, she had a grasp on trauma and what trauma will do and how it affects people differently. I appreciated how Louella and William (her husband) were at odds about what to do after the war. William wanted to stay and make a life as a paid worker in and in a few brief chapters, Vanessa Miller painted a bleak and realistic portrait of share cropping. I felt trapped just reading about it.

Ultimately, William and Louella make the call to leave the Montgomery plantation to make a life for themselves elsewhere and this is where the story really starts. It’s so incredible I can’t believe why I’ve never heard their story. The along with 200+ other souls migrated to the border of South Carolina and North Carolina where they purchased land and established a Kingdom where all could live and be supported and cared for, fed, and educated. I especially loved how she refused to be silenced. Such a beautiful advocate for those unseen and it’s one of my favorite qualities about her.

I am grateful to the author for bringing Louella’s contributions to the United States into the spotlight. Her story is truly such a marvel, and this telling of it was as enjoyable as it was informational. Well worth the read! I’d like to thank Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I enjoyed this book. This story is about a group of people who started out as slaves who wanted to be free. Once they became free, they started a journey to find a place they could call their own. Louella Montgomery was a true visionary who helped lead her people along with her husband, William, and others to the Happy Land. You will connect with the characters in this story. You will experience happy and sad moments as you learn about their journey. Get your tissues ready. The author's notes were truly interesting on what led her to write this story. Vanessa Miller did an outstanding job with writing this. I recommend this book to others, and I look forward to reading more books by her.

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A Happy Land rises from oppression in this inspiring historical novel

This is a fictionalized account of the true story of Louella Bobo Montgomery. She was born into slavery on a cotton plantation in Mississippi, emancipated after the Civil War, and the co-founder, with her husband William, of a free and entirely self-sufficient community of formerly enslaved people in the Appalachian Mountains on the border between North and South Carolina. The Happy Land was established in 1869 on acres of the former Oakland Plantation that the people cleared and purchased from the owner. The plantation’s former slaves quarters were located on that section of land.

Many of the facts of Louella’s life are heartbreaking, and difficult to read about. She and her family were the victims of senseless and ceaseless brutality for decades at the hands of the White slaveowners, and this treatment continued beyond the emancipation as the former slaves were uneducated, lived in abject poverty with no means of earning an income, and under constant threat of violence due to widespread, unapologetic racism. But Louella and William were resilient and refused to accept that Black people could not have better lives. They were so courageous and charismatic that they inspired over 200 people to join them on a journey of faith across the South (largely on foot) to find a refuge of peace and safety.

The story of the American Queen is one of inspiration, hope, family, and faith. It is so clear that this project was an absolute labor of love for the author, and the depth of her research so that she could give a voice to the Happy Landers is apparent throughout the novel. One of the things that I really enjoyed was her straightforward writing style. The third-person narrator was direct and mirrored the tone of the colloquial speech patterns of her characters. As a result, the prose never condescended to or patronized the characters.

While the pacing of the novel was uneven in places, the importance and the need for this story in the world outweighs any negative criticisms.

This was one of my favorite quotes:

“'It used to scare me the way you speak your mind, but lately I’ve been thinking that the good Lord must’ve put you on this earth to help those who can’t help themselves.'”

Her grandmother then laid down on her pallet on the opposite side of the fire, as if she hadn’t said anything out of the ordinary, but she’d said a mouthful. All her life Louella had been told to shut her mouth, mind her manners, and stop being so insolent. When all she ever wanted was to be heard. To be seen as more than some no-count enslaved girl. Her grandmother’s words blessed her very soul."

Thank you, Vanessa. My soul was blessed from reading this book.

Thank you NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to read and review this novel. All opinions are my own.

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It's been awhile since I read a 5 star book...but I think that this book deserves it. No it isn't like some of my other 5 star books, but I really can't take any stars away from this one.

The American Queen explores a rarely known REAL place from history in North Carolina on the border with South Carolina called Happy Land. It was established by newly emancipated slaves and created to be a refuge for all slaves who would come. In the book, the policy of the leaders for the land was simple--contribute something and you will be taken care of because (in the words from 3 Musketeers) "All for One and One for all!" Regardless of your age, infirmity, or capabilities, you will share in the blessings equally. This was created because of their inhumane and debase experiences as slaves for cruel masters. Being able to own something for themselves and to better themselves how THEY desired must be experienced. We obviously see it as socialism and the author discusses that aspect in the author notes at the end. And highly recommend reading the notes about where the story came from and details about what was real in the telling.

This is a Christian Fiction book and there are so many aspects of faith. Faith when nothing good is happening. Faith in the midst of cruelty. Faith in the good when all around you is the bad. Questioning the purpose God has. Questioning who He even is when all around you is pain and suffering and evil. I don't care who you are--if you are a Christian you've experienced at least some of these questions in your journey of faith.

Some quotes I noted from the book:
<blockquote>"If God wanted them to see goodness, then why so much pain? Where was God in her darkest of hours? All these things were her inward thoughts, but she did not--would not--say any of it out loud. She lifted her face to the heavens, silently telling God, I need answers...I am undone. My heart is heavy with grief."</blockquote>

I mean. Wow. I know there are so many out there who could have said this themselves in their darkest time. So so many. Louella will speak the heart of so many men and women out there.

<blockquote>"There were so many days that Louella had wondered if God was listening or if she was praying in vain. She had no way of knowing how or why God answered some prayers and left others hanging out in the wind. Even so, she had learned to bless God through it all and wait on the miracles He sent her way."</blockquote>

Honestly--this one is definitely one that I've pondered myself.

And I loved this advice from the lead character's best friend...
<blockquote>"the truth is, everything didn't go the way you planned it, but life can still be good..."</blockquote>

So. Much. yes.

This book had very very hard spots to read since it was trying to capture the inhuman way that the slaves were treated. You will wince. You will be ashamed of humanity. And you will marvel at the attitudes of the faithful who never gave up on God.

I highly recommend this book.

5 Stars.

**I received this book as an ARC from the publishers and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.

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This story isn't an easy fiction read. It comes from a place when horrible atrocities took place to people. It's a book that needs to be read though as the reader can learn about the strength of the people who lived in Happy Land. William and Louella led their people through extremely trying times and sought the Lord first throughout it all. Mama Sue was another great character with her steady presence in the background to the leading characters. To learn that William and Louella were "real people" made the story even more endearing.



Thanks so much to netgalley and the publisher for the arc. The opinions are my own.

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Absolutely mesmerizing and brilliantly researched. I learned about a part of history I had never heard of before. Kudos to Miller for carefully excavating this "needs to be told" story of an amazing woman and her amazing community.

I could tell that Miller is fascinated by this research and as in awe of this breathless story as I was... it comes across on every page.

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Once I got into this book, I could not put it down. Given that the current climate is either rewriting or erasing African American history, this is one of the most important works of our time. It is a story of perseverance and overcoming in spite of all the hardships that were presented to recently freed enslaved people. To know that people that were born enslaved built a community of over 500 families blew me a way. The amount of research the author did (included in the Author’s Note) was phenomenal and reminded me why I loved Yellow Wife. I loved Louella so much. She is the epitome of “men are the head but women are the neck and we can turn the head any way we want”. While both her and William are the king and queen, she is really the true leader of this kingdom. Learning that this was based on a true story has me wanting to visit South Carolina and pay respect to Happy Land.

If you liked Yellow Wife, Carolina Built, The Personal Librarian or The Great Mrs Elias, I highly recommend you read this one and learn about Queen Louella. It is another hidden secret of African American History that everyone should know and celebrate. You can’t call yourself an ally or advocate and not want to celebrate this beautiful fictionalized history of African Americans.

SN: this book does not include the graphic violence of Yellow Wife

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The American Queen by Vanessa Miller, I did not think a book could pissed me off one minute, bring tears to my eyes the next, piss me off again and finally let me cry and grieve for all that was lost, destroyed, tricked, beaten and how they survived moving from a slave planation thru North and South Carolina, with little food and surrounded by hateful people to finally their “Happy Place” and for Louella and her husband to become King and Queen to a place where African Americans were treated like humans. I admire Vanessa Miller's for the research she did on this book. I understand that the political feeling of the day is to hide or lie about the truth, but it’s authors like Vanessa Miller that will never let it go and it’s booksellers like me who will not allow anyone to hide my black history. In conclusion, the character, Louella was heroic, with a determined Spirit, and fearless, just like Ms. Miller. There are not enough words to describe going from hated to a joyful and God loving spirit, but Ms. Miller did just that.

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I absolutely loved The American Queen. Vanessa Miller brings to like a piece of African American history that has been hidden for decades. I found the story of Queen Louella Montgomery an emotional read that was riveting, fascinating and inspiring. Ms. Miller takes read error a journey of grit, as William and Louella take a trek from Mississippi to the Kingdom of Happy Land. Fellow readers I experienced the emotions of sorrow and joy in this great book written by one of my favorite authors, Vanessa Miller. Kudos on a well written story.

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Once I got into this book, I could not put it down. Given that the current climate is either rewriting or erasing African-American history, this is one of the most important works of our time. It is a story of perseverance and overcoming despite all the hardships that were presented to recently freed enslaved people. To know that people who were born enslaved built a community of over 500 families blew me away. The amount of research the author did (included in the Author’s Note) was phenomenal and reminded me why I loved Yellow Wife. I loved Louella so much. She is the epitome of “men are the head but women are the neck and we can turn the head any way we want”. While both she and William are the king and queen, she is the true leader of this kingdom. Learning that this was based on a true story has me wanting to visit South Carolina and pay respect to Happy Land.

If you liked Yellow Wife, Carolina Built, The Personal Librarian, or The Great Mrs Elias, I highly recommend you read this one and learn about Queen Louella. It is another hidden secret of African-American History that everyone should know and celebrate. You can’t call yourself an ally or advocate and not want to celebrate this beautiful fictionalized history of African Americans.

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The American Queen
by Vanessa Miller
Pub Date: January 30, 2024
Thomas Nelson Fiction
Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
I requested this book and was eager to read it after being approved.
The American Queen located in the historical fiction category piqued my curiosity with an immediacy that required satisfaction. The story is about the life of Louella Montgomery, former slave turned Queen of Happy Land.
Excellent book! Highly recommend.

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The American Queen, by Vanessa Miller, is based on the life of Luella Montgomery. A former slave in Mississippi, she married another slave, sired by the plantation master. After the War Between the States, they moved a group of people to a new land to build a community where everyone was to serve each other. Luella and her husband were named the King and Queen of Happy Land. Luella was strong, determined, and carried the weight of the community on her shoulders. It was her dream to build a place where emancipated people could do more than survive, a place where they could thrive.

Luella Montgomery is hardly known outside the area of Hendersonville, Greenville, and Spartanburg on the North and South Carolinas border. She is a woman we should know. This is a compelling story of dreams, sacrifice, and love for others. Luella is the only queen in American History. I was able to read an ARC on #NetGalley.

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Easy 5 stars, I’m so grateful to have been able to review this one! It was absolutely amazing and I look forward to recommending it!

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We meet Louella as a child living on the Montgomery Plantation, and soon see how she got the scares on her back, and as we follow this girl/woman throughout most of her life.

Struggles follow her wherever she is, and we walk with her, and love her and her strong personality. Her dreams, and how she convinces her husband and soon a band of people to go North from Mississippi, with a dream of a society that is independent and not beholding to others. Thus the Kingdom of the Happy Place!

I loved the author's notes, and how she came to write this book and the research that went into it. This is a fictional story based on truth, and we learn that there is a lot of real things that actually happened, and are updated on what happens to this society.

This is such a compelling page turner, and I'll be looking for more by this author!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.

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Absolutely phenomenal!! Vanessa did something different here than the other 3 books I’ve read by her and she did it well!! I was completely obsessed with this story and I loved it!

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American Queen, oh my goodness it was such a powerful story of strength, willingness, and family! It was such a breath of fresh air to read a historical fictional book and it wasn’t completely depressing and to read my people in position and power. Of course there are bumps along the road but this was so beautifully written and I can’t wait to read more from this author!

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The American Queen: a beautiful story told by Vanessa Miller, who is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. This is the story of Louella and William, two former slaves who led their friends and family to a place of peace after slavery ended. They found a place where everyone could be treated equally and they lived that dream out. Based on true events, this story will capture your heart and bring you joy. It will also remind you that trusting in the Lord, even when it’s hard, is always the best choice.

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5 Stars!

This book is an amazing story. Everyone should know about The Happy Place and the King and Queen. I am so glad I got to read this and will be talking about it and recommending it to everyone. This book is set just after the civil war when the slaves were freed. A brave group of people overcome their horrible circumstances by coming together and build a community. This is a story of love and friendship as well. It is based on a real place and real people.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

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The American Queen tells the true story of Queen Louella. A formerly enslaved woman from Georgia, who along side hundreds of other formerly enslaved people started their own kingdom called the Happy Land on the border of South and North Carolina.

Starting from the plantation where she was enslaved, journeying through Alabama and Mississippi and eventually spending almost two decades at Happy Land, this story is full of ups and downs.

I love Queen Louella and the way she takes care of her people, always motivated to uplift them and share good things.

What an incredible and inspiring story. I’m so happy I found this book and Vanessa Miller, I can’t wait to see where she goes next with historical fiction.

You can really tell how well researched this book was and the care Miller put into the fictional side of it, trying to tell the story as closely as she believed it to be.

This book is out 1/30/24! Run and preorder it, add it to your TBR, you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks to #netgalley and the publisher and #vanessamiller for the e-arc

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Louella made an impact on me from the moment her gaze latched on to a noose that was hanging from an oak tree.This was the moment when Louella knew she was free. It was that moment when the members of the community looked up to her and her leadership shined. Quickly she knew education would give the group true freedom. In order to have strength, the group managed to make a community, and they earned money as a group and fed the group. Eventually, they grew into several hundreds.

The community called themselves Happy Land, which started out as a dream and grew into a home. Happy Land made Louella and her husband William, into the King and Queen of the group. According to the author, the story of the Happy Land was a true story, yet nothing can be found in the history books.

Their lives were endangered by the KKK,which made it difficult to enjoy a peaceful life. The group’s lives were like a triple stacked Oreo cookie. The bad, then misfortune and back to good. I was tempted to flip to the ending, I wanted the groups' lives to be the icing part of the cookie.
According to the author, the story of the Happy Land was a true story, yet nothing can be found in the history books.

Thank you Vanessa Miller, HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this amazing book, in which I wrote an honest review.

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This historical fiction set in the south right after the Civil War is about Louella Montgomery a former slave who traveled with her family to establish a place for her people to live in. Louella has to deal with bitterness and hatred of those who enslaved her and this at first this seeps through to her relationship with others. When Louella and her husband have to leave the plantation they were enslaved at, others go with them as well. Going north they encounter more former slaves who decide to go with them. Eventually they all settle in a place that they establish the Kingdom of Happy Land, a community that looked out for each other and Louella and William, her reverend husband, are proclaimed the King and Queen of Happy Land. Louella endures struggles and heartache throughout the journey and throughout her life, but she finds joy in the Lord and her family and community.
This was a fascinating book about something I did not know about. I liked Louella’s strong character and liked the dynamic between her and her husband William. The difficulties and joys of Louella and her family and community were told well and honored Louella and William and what they accomplished at that time.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Vanessa Miller for letting me review an arc copy from NetGalley

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All the emotions! The ordeal of slavery them trying to make a life after slavery and learning to trust God when it is impossible to trust anything! Beautiful written and well researched, The American Queen is a must read!

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What a powerful read. I can't say that about too many books I have read. As I read it, I didn’t realise it was based on a true story. The struggles and resilience of these people were amazing. Their trust in God was inspirational. The characters were well-written and the storyline flowed beautifully. I found it very hard to put down. I also enjoyed the explanation at the end which helped to understand the true story. I received this as an ARC and freely give my review.

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Oh my goodness! This was such a good book! The American Queen was Louella Montgomery and her husband was William. They were born into slavery and lived on a plantation in Mississippi. William was massa Montgomery's son. When the slaves were emancipated, louella's plan was to get away from the plantation and to get away from Mississippi. William had told her stories about how his mother had told him stories about a happy land, where black people took care of and respected each other. So they packed up and left and took several ex slaves with them. They also took with them William's brother, Robert, who had been passing for white.

As they traveled from Mississippi to South Carolina, they ended up with 200 ex slaves. They were directed to the home of Serepta Davies, a white woman who had hundreds of acres of land that she was doing nothing with. On this land where acres and acres of oak trees. The ex slaves moved into the existing slave quarters and agreed to cut down the trees and sell the lumber so that they could purchase land from Mrs. Davies. With the purchase of the land, they built homes and a church that doubled as a school during the week. Luella and William could read and write so Louella taught the children and many of the adults how to read and write. Once the construction started, Louella and William we're dubbed queen and king of the Happy Land. They had an all-for-one and one for all mentality.

William was a minister and he pastored his flock well. Everything went as planned and the Happy Landers thrived. As it turns out, Robert wasn't a good person and Louella couldn't stand him. And he didn't think too highly of her. But he had his brother's ear, and William decided to make him his right hand man. Luella felt like he was pushing her aside.

And then sickness swept through the land claiming several lives, and William got sick. Luella did everything she could in nursing him back to health but it wasn't meant to be, and he died. He wasn't even cold in his grave yet when the community decided to make Robert king. This didn't go over well with Louella. They bickered and fought but in the end, Louella decided to give in and serve with him. Up until then Robert have been spending and exorbitant amount of time in Spartansburg where he was drinking and carousing. He had a daughter named Elmira that they picked up when they got to South Carolina. She had hoped that she and her dad could reestablish a relationship but that didn't happen. And it turns out that he has three other children in Spartansburg.

Robert had built a barn that Louella knew nothing about. There was a reverend Ezel who traveled throughout the Carolinas preaching. He had become good friends with William and whenever he was in town he preached at William's Church. After William died, the Reverend told Queen Louella about the fact that there were people from the Happy Land who had been selling corn whiskey. Luella new immediately that Robert was behind it, so she went out to the barn and found a still there where they had been making the corn whiskey. She made Robert tear it down.

Eventually, Robert got sick. On his deathbed, Robert confessed to Louella that he had borrowed $500 from a man in Spartansburg and the debt had come due. Robert didn't have the money. He had put the Happy Land up for collateral. Robert's name was on the deed but so was louella's. A few months after Robert's death the guy Robert was indebted to came to collect. He served papers on Louella for a court appearance. The plan was to auction off the land.

I found myself engrossed in this true story. The author did the characters justice by making them extremely believable. Oh, and Queen Louella and King William had three children. Their first daughter, Lily, died at birth. In Mississippi, louella's mother had been sold to a slave owner in South Carolina. She had told Reverend Ezel about this and ask him to keep his eye open for her mother.

What I liked most about this book was how these industrious black people created and enduring community. It was indeed what Queen Luella had prayed for: a community where people were well respected and looked out for each other. I gave this book five stars. I would have given it 10 if that were possible.

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I loved that this book was based on a true story and that story needed to be told. It is an intriguing look into the minds and hearts of those who were enslaved and how they came with Queen Louella to build a new community. It is a story that will stay with me a long time. Louella was an extraordinary woman and became strong for others.
Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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A mesmerizing piece of historicql.fixtion that draws you in from the first page. Luella is an intriguing, spirited, and passionate woman. This is one not to be missed.

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Riveting and poignant are two words that immediately come to mind about this book. The author did a fantastic job of keeping the reader engaged while sharing a story that many will only come to learn about through this book. I learned so much from this book and it was told with boldness yet kindness. She managed to share the insufferable circumstances while highlighting the resiliency of our people. I appreciate the dedication to the research that the author must have had to tell this story. This is a book that I hope anyone will read to learn about the formerly enslaved people who despite all odds managed to create and thrive in Happy Land for a time.

Thank you Net Galley for this opportunity.

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The American Queen is based on the true story of Queen Louella, the queen of the Happy Land people residing on the border of North and South Carolina. After hearing stories from her husband, William, about his mother and how her people lived in harmony back in the old country, Louella decides after the end of the Civil War to leave slavery on the Montgomery plantation and head out looking for their own promised land. This is a powerful story told over many decades of Louella, her life on the plantation, their journey out of Mississippi, and their joys and hardships creating and living in the Happy Land. I really enjoyed the author's note at the end and you can tell she spent a lot of time researching Louella and the Happy Land people. Once I got into this book, I couldn't put it down and kept wanting more. I highly recommend this historical fiction book.

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This book can be summed up in one word “phenomenal”. As a follower of this author I was looking forward to reading her newest book. When I discovered it was about a black queen on American soil I became quite intrigued. Having read the story of Queen Luella I can truly say this author did not disappoint. I found this book to be a complete page turner from start to finish. It was very obvious the author thoroughly researched this project. I completed this book in two days. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

I’m interested in hearing the audiobook to really see these characters come alive.

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The story of Louella Montgomery, also known as the American Queen, is based on a true story. The narrative weaves through her life, highlighting her fierce aversion to Oak trees - a symbol of pain and loss that she associated with them. This aversion became the driving force behind her vision for a place she fondly referred to as 'Happy Land,' a place of hope and growth.

This compelling saga, set in the tumultuous period following the Civil War, provides a lens into the life of Louella Bobo Montgomery. Life for Louella was a series of trials and tribulations, marked by considerable suffering and sacrifice. However, the narrative is far from gloomy. Instead, it becomes a beacon of hope, illuminating the remarkable resilience and unyielding spirit of this woman. Readers will find themselves awed by her ability to make tough compromises and her unwavering determination to better the world around her.

With her husband William’s strong faith and Louella’s vision, they are crowned king and queen of Happy Land. The way the community ran and assisted the people to grow, and flourish is indeed something to be celebrated. There are nuggets of wisdom to grab from their reign, demonstrating the power of collective effort and a shared vision.

This is an exceptionally penned story by Vanessa Miller. She deserves kudos for her ability to narrate such a complex and layered story in its uniqueness. This book is highly recommended as a must-read. It is a story that deserves to be read, shared, discussed, and celebrated. It offers a unique perspective into a period of our history that is often clouded by turmoil and strife, highlighting the unyielding spirit of humanity amidst adversity.

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I am a historical girlie, and trust, every one I have read has been hitting, including this one. This was such a great book. Although not much is known about the actual area, the author has given us such a vivid story that was so well written. I really loved reading about most of the Characters, and Queen Louella's Journey. There were many things I was surprised about as I was reading the story. I was so happy to read this book and black authors showing us our history that is constantly being challenged and erased. I was captivated from beginning to and and It took me on such an emotional ride.

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Courtesy of Thomas Nelson Fiction and Netgalley, I received the ARC of The American Queen by Vanessa Miller. This well researched historical novel starts in 1865 on a Mississippi plantation where "freed"slaves are still subjected to oppression. Louella married Rev. William Montgomery and convinced him to walk north, leading friends and relatives on their nearly two year journey to the North/South Carolina border, where they settled and create a faith based socialist community. Designated King and Queen of the Kingdom of the Happy Land, they demonstrated resilience and dignity. What a perfect book for Black History Month!

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📚Book Review 📚
Title: The American Queen 🇺🇸👑
Author: Vanessa Miller
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
As I immerse myself in the captivating world of "The American Queen" by Vanessa Miller, I am transported to a realm where history unfolds in the most enthralling manner. As I read this book I found myself captivated by the story and literally visualizing the setting. This historical fiction masterpiece is a beacon of enlightenment, especially fitting for Black History Month.
At its heart, the narrative revolves around the remarkable Queen Louella, a beacon of strength and resilience, whose story pulsates with significance and poignancy. Miller masterfully weaves together the tapestry of Queen Louella’s life, the Kingdom of Happy land at the same time illuminating the narrative of Black royalty on American soil which is unknown to many.
This enchanting tale of the people of Happy Land is a revelation. It sheds light on the years post slavery where newly free black people are trying to determine their next steps. This chapter of history is too often relegated to the shadows. Through meticulous research, Miller brings their struggles, triumphs, and untold stories to life, inviting readers to bear witness to their journey.
"The American Queen" is not merely a book; it's a testament to the resilience of the Black race. As I turn the final page, I am left with a profound sense of gratitude for the opportunity to embark on this unforgettable literary journey. The author includes closing notes and acknowledgements that inspire you to continue on the quest to gain a deeper understanding of Queen Louella and The Kingdom of Happy land.
Thank you Thomas-Nelson publishers for providing me this Advanced Reader Copy!!

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Thank you Netgalley for the gifted copy, this was a great book! An emotional rollercoaster. I highly recommend this amazing book

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This story brings to light another Black woman in history that I knew little about! The setting is 1869 in the south and tells a story of what “freedom”after slavery looked like. After leaving the Montgomery Plantation Louella and her husband, Reverend Williams lead their community to a new land to build their own community of which they are appointed Queen and King. Although they carry the trauma and scars of slavery, they are strengthened and guided by their faith.
I loved their strong partnership as they face loss, grief, and setbacks together.
This is an empowering story of community and a woman’s tenacity and courage to fight for her vision. 4.5

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OMG! I've never heard of this and I can't believe, we are not taught about this in history (although, should I really be shocked?). The watch the rise of the Happylanders Kingdom, gave me such pride, and the tenacity that Queen Louella had to live beyond her means of slavery was amazing. I would highly recommend this book to any and everyone to read! Don't walk, but run to read this!

Thank you to NetGalley and the author and publisher and for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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This work of historical fiction is based on such a wonderfully heartwarming and true story, the like of which I've never heard of in my life, but I'm thrilled to have been able to read about it in this touching narrative. However, the former enslavement of the black people in America is never an easy subject to read about, yet the brutality wielded at the hands of wicked men and women was the reality of so many. It was tough to read of it.

The book details a journey not unlike Moses and the children of Israel's 40 year trek in the wilderness and headed towards their Promised Land. The heartbreak, yet the victory and happiness despite the odds against resilient people was characterized by Queen Louella and King William as they left the Mississippi area and headed towards South and North Carolina to make a Kingdom of Happiness, or Happy Land for their own people, was truly amazing.

Another reality check that even though the American Civil War was won by those who "freed the slaves," the slaves were hard put to be free indeed. So the outcome of the Happy Landers was indeed moving and I found myself cheering them on till the end.

I like that there was talk of relationship with God, trusting or not trusting Him, forgiveness and enduring faith, and other related topics and issues.

There are discussion questions at book's end that will enable a sincere reader to ponder more fully on these times and issues that still haunt and raise their ugly heads today.

I feel that author Vanessa Miller has pieced all the bits and pieces together in a very satisfactory manner. All-in-all, an amazing story and I'm so glad she shared it with the world.

A 5-Star rating from me.

~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~

February 2024

Disclaimer: "I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

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I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The American Queen by Vanessa Miller is a historical fiction novel about Louella Bobo Montogomery, queen of the Kingdom of the Happy Land, a kingdom made by and for formerly enslaved people right on the Carolina border. When the Civil War is over and things still aren’t getting better, Louella and her husband, William, leave with their family and many others to head to a land that they can claim for themselves. With references to God, Christianity, the historical realities of America during the Civil War, and emotional depth from Louella and William’s POVs, this book is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

Like many, I had no idea the Kingdom of the Happy Land existed or that Louella and William were real people. Vanessa Miller goes into depth in the author’s notes of what she expanded upon through logic and what is historical fact. I love it when authors do this because it gives starting resources for readers to look into to learn more themselves.

What I truly loved about the novel itself was just how front and center Louella’s feelings were and how we saw her change how she handled situations through her experiences and growing older, but her feelings remained. There are triumphs on the page at various points, which only makes the heartbreaking moments all the more gut wrenching.

Content warning for depictions of pregnancy, giving birth, still births, lynching, and mentions of sexual assault and whipping

I would recommend this to readers looking for historical fiction taking place after the Civil War, readers who like character-driven plots in historical fiction, and fans of Vanessa Miller.

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Wow, Wow, Wow!!!! I just finished an amazing historical fiction titled, The American Queen by Vanessa Miller, and I have experienced a range of emotions.

This book is based on true events, about Louella and William Montgomery-formerly enslaved people, left Mississippi to find a place away from William’s biological father (slave owner) plantation that would allow them to truly be free and live happy.

This book is rich with history of several families plight to escape lynchings, deaths, and living the life of slaves though slavery had ended 😳. Louella and William found a place that they called “The Kingdom of the Happy Land” where they ruled and led the people thru a communal and family concept. Trying to find a place to call home when there were still white men that refused to regard them as free, made their journey tumultuous, and scary. But having faith, knowing God, gave them the grit to journey on.
Reading this book upset me10 times over as I was reminded how Blacks were treated as slaves and after. This book also brought me so much joy as I learned about the first recorded Queen in America who was a Black woman. I loved the use of herbs for medicine (bcuz that’s my flex), and totally enjoyed the consistent evidence of faith, they relying of scripture (another flex). The author did a tremendous job with researching and retelling the documented story about these people, and creating space in literature for such a heartwrenching breathtaking story.

This is a must read!!!! This is most definitely 5-star book. Vanessa Miller did a fantastic job with this one.

Thank you NetGalley, Vanessa Miller, and Harpers Collins Christian Publishing - Thomas Nelson Imprint for providing me an ARC, ALC copies of this book for my honest review.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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What an amazing, tragic, nonetheless inspirational story of Louella, who was taken from her family as a young child and brought to work on the Montgomery Plantation. Louellia's heart was always racing to get away. However, William Louellia’s husband, desired to be obedient to his master. But when Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves, it was a game changer for everyone. Their master’s didn’t have to feed or clothe them anymore. All they had was promised wages for working the land. They were frequently unpaid by the master’s for months at a time. Where could they live? Their situation was worse now that they were free. It didn’t seem right.


Revolution struck. Slaves escaped the plantations. They needed to find a place where they could call home, support their families and live free. Then they came to North Carolina their promised land. It was hard work to build what they refer to as Happy Land. (which was based on a real place),

This story reminded me of when Pharaoh released the Israelites, then went after them to bring them back. I was engrossed in this compelling story as I read about their struggles and achievements, in Happy Land. It’s truly a gripping, page-turner. The author's debut historical fiction. It’s a must-read. I hope the author continues to write historical novels. If you haven’t read a book by this author, I highly recommend this one. It would be a wonderful pick for your book club. There is so much to discuss.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I requested and received a copy of this book by the publisher and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog https://psalm516.blogspot.com/

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I love this book it was a history lesson/ motivation wrapped in one. Reading Louella story was a breath fresh air on how she and William lead their people to the happy land to build a new future.

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This is a great start if you want to read about strong women during Women’s History Month.

When we think of the monarchy, we don’t associate it with America, but perhaps we should. Based on a true story, we learn about a monarchy that’s never talked about in any history lesson. This story teaches us a valuable lesson: hope. Queen Louella is strong and smart; you immediately feel her struggle from the first page. Miller paints this story with so much amazing imagery that you feel like you’re there with Queen Louella and her husband Reverend William.

I felt a range of emotions reading this book. I felt Louella’s hate and grief… William’s hope for many things: Louella’s heart and a better tomorrow, to name a few. But most importantly, I felt the urge to learn more. Louella evolves into the queen she is, and it is inspiring. I felt like I knew her personally like she was my ancestor.

We get to see former enslaved people have the dignity and respect that they deserve. This is a story that’s going to stick with me for a long time.

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This is an important book. Before opening it, I had never heard of Louella Montgomery, an African American woman born into slavery in Mississippi, in the 1850s, and freed once slavery was abolished in 1865. The American Queen is a fictionalize story, based on what is known of Louella. Louella and her husband, Reverend William Montgomery have to leave Mississippi, as tensions grow following the recession and recovery of the Southern states after the Civil War. Together, they travel with other freed people through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and finally to the South Carolina/North Carolina border, where they find a place to settle. During their journey their group grows from almost 40 to over 200 people. As they settle, they name their settlement, The Happy Land.

Louella is a force to be reckoned with. She faces hardship from the time she is born, to the time she passes, but with each tragedy, she continues to fight for human rights and women's rights. Ms. Miller's book ensures not only will Louella not be forgotten, but she will sit in an honored place in American history.

I received a complimentary copied of this book in both audio and ebook formats. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Both formats are a delight. Every time I started up the audio, I felt comforted and excited to hear about the next chapter in Louella's life.

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Luella Montgomery, a former slave who, would often dream about a Happy Place, one where the residents live a cohesive life and concur any oncoming obstacles…TOGETHER. After dangerous situations arise, Luella and her husband William, lead a group of fifty on a journey to find such place. A year later, that number swelled to two hundred, and they embarked upon acres of land, located between North and South Carolina to fulfill that dream. Each person used their unique skills and abilities to make Luella's dream a reality. Crowned King and Queen, William and Luella ruled the kingdom fairly, and all appeared well, until jealousy reared its ugly head.

What I loved most about The American Queen is (1) it's based on a true story; (2)it's beautifully written; (3) it gives the readers a sense of pride; and (4) the author provided her resources, in order for readers to do their own research. My favorite character is Queen Luella and my least favorite is King Robert. You'll have to read the book to understand why.

Did I mention that this page-turner by @authorvanessamiller will tap on your emotions and leave you wanting more? Or, that it makes me think about one of my all time favorite books, Jubilee by Margaret Walker? I highly recommend this book, which has solidified a spot on my Best Books of 2024 List.

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This was such an extraordinary book that’ll transport you through the unsung history of a Black woman who built a kingdom as a refuge for the courageous people who dared to dream of a different way of life.

When Louella and William decide to leave the Montgomery Plantation for good they take with them a group of freed slaves and William’s brother Robert in hopes of finding a better life. Later down the line they build the Kingdom of the Happy Land grounded on the philosophy of “one for all, and all for one.” After William and Louella were crowned King and Queen things were going well for the Happy Landers but nothing good last forever. Unless you’re willing to fight for what’s yours. That’s why I loved Louella’s character she did not let up when it came to what she wanted. She definitely didn’t hesitate to check Robert and put him in his place when necessary.

William was a good man and a lovable character but his attachment to Robert and the Montgomery name irked me so bad. I had ill feelings about Robert 70% of the book but towards the end my thoughts changed a little. Mama Sue was one of my favorite characters in the book.

Overall, the book was amazing highly recommend especially if you’re just getting into historical fiction. It being based on true events got me hooked. I also loved the premise, the strong character development, and the language used by some of the characters. Imagine The Yellow Wife and the movie Django Unchained meshed together in a book. It’s gonna hit a bit different than the average historical fiction books you’ve probably read. But trust when I say this is so worth the read. Special thanks to the author, @tnzfiction, and @hearourvoicestours for my gifted copy‼️

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It used to scare me the way speaks your mind. But lately I’ve been thinking that the good Lord must’ve put you on this Earth to help those who can’t help themselves.”

Based on a true story, A Black woman who build a kingdom as a refuse for the formerly enslaved people. Louella was a person who spoke with her mind and heart. I felt her anger and grief in the beginning of the story Louella learned to feel her grief & anger after her mother was sold and her father lynched. She lived on the Montgomery plantation over 24 years. Louella falls in love with Reverend William, they became the appointed king and Queen in the kingdom of the happy Land after leaving and leading the enslaved people off the plantation for freedom and a better life.

Themes: love, hate, trust, resilience, and hope in the face of turmoil and oppression.

Thank you @hearourvoicestours, @TNZFiction and @authorvanessamiller for the opportunity to spotlight this important book.

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Wow. Wow. Wow. I predict this book will be a top favorite of mine in 2024. Living on the SC and NC border, I had no idea this Kingdom existed and was thrilled to discover this book was based on a true story in the mountains I love. The storytelling, the research, the emotions...Vanessa did an incredible job bringing this legacy to life and reminding people today of the hardships faced after emancipation and one way a group overcame them. The audiobook brings it even more to life with incredible narration. I felt drawn in instantly, loved the humanness of each character, including the struggle and tension of faith. Luella's strength is inspiring. Highly recommend The American Queen!

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Great book, I have it in print now as well. This book was captivating and overall a good read but maybe not as harsh as some would expect. There were some parts of the book that felt it was more glossed over or the author was holding back on the brutality that people suffered through. Although I have read previously about this time period, I did not know the story of this colony and thought it was very interesting from a historical perspective. I was happy to have read this book.

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The American Queen is a story that will stay with me for a long time to come. It's not a story that's easy to read. In fact the first section is brutal and hard to read. But in my opinion it's something we as a people need to face so that it doesn't happen again.

Before you start this story I would urge you to read the forward by the author. It will give you insight into what her motives were in writing the story as she did. It will keep you from being offended and let you enjoy the story as it unfolds.

Now let me tell you what I enjoyed about this story. First it's based on an historical time and place that I knew nothing about. The main character is Louella and her tenacity and fortitude are truly inspiring. Through overwhelming adversity she continues to make her face like flint and presses forward.

One of the things that's most admirable about Louella is that she doesn't just seek better for herself but also her people. Mind you, this was done at a great personal cost but she just continued to press on. By the time they reached their ultimate destination I was cheering so hard for them. The difficulties weren't over by a long shot but you could see that there was a better day coming.

I truly can't recommend this book enough. Again, it's not an easy read but by the time you turn the last page I think you will be just as moved as I was.

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The American Queen tells the intriguing story of Louella Montegomery, an enslaved woman who is freed after the close of the American Civil War. She and her family embark on a journey out of the Deep South to find Happy Land, a vision she's seen in her dreams that she believes God has shown her. Louella understandably struggles with her faith throughout the book, considering all the evil injustices she has faced. She wrestles with being the leader in a community that is finding its own footing, while she herself is trying to find her way in a new world.

While this book isn't categorized as a YA (young adult) book, it reads like one at times. This doesn't bother me, as the author directly addresses many real issues Louella deal with, but just doesn't graphically/explicitly describe them. Some of the dialogue is a bit modern-sounding, so it sometimes took me out of the story. Otherwise this account was truly beautiful, and an interesting look into a group of formerly enslaved people, who developed a strong communal space of their own, the kingdom of Happy Land, in what is now the Henderson County area.

I loved reading about a piece of history in the place that I live, and because of the more simple way the author portrayed some of these things, I think this would make a great read-aloud book for kids who are in middle school or high school as they learn about the reality of American history and the enslavement of African Americans. I would likely keep it to age 14+ but that's just my personal estimation and depends on the maturity of the individual.

I'm truly grateful to this author for unveiling another not-often-taught aspect of Black history, and for the strong, hopeful, redemptive way she wrote Louella's story, and how she weaved God into the entirety of the story. Highly recommend everyone read this!!


Trigger warnings: This book does address topics like slavery, racism, physical abuse/"punishment", hanging/lynching, child loss, etc.

Thank you Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley for the eARC of this book. This is my honest review of this wonderful story.

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Books like this are why I read like I do! I want new information, to be delighted by surprise and to know that sometime, somewhere right triumphed. . .for a moment or two, the heavens rolled open and poured out weighty approbation. . .it happened - really happened - for Louella Bobo Montgomery aka The American Queen .

I am so pleased that my time here didn't pass without me hearing and learning this story, based on true happenings that "history" forgot. Fortunately for us, there was a Ms. Patton who made sure her research survived in a corner of a library until the old historians shuffled off, and crews with a better-wiser view recovered it, the planets aligned and pointed to this Author, and Here We Are: I've read it, and recommend it to you, dear Reader, 5+ stars worth. Lucky me, I read (someone taught me!) and listened (technology affords possibility) to this one. Both are excellent formats. Again: Vanessa Miller - thank you for the education and efforts in getting this story out to us, out to me. I'll be thinking about it for a very long time.

You'll find yourself reading a hard story, a true tale for more than just these characters based on real people - examples of hard times and truths. More than a little guilt is felt for past crimes nationally tolerated. But then these persecuted wayfarers rise phoenix-like, above their challenges and circumstances and find a way, providing a message of hope that never grows old or unnecessary, in any age, era, or generation for every family or individual.

*A sincere thank you to Vanessa Miller, Thomas Nelson--Fiction, and NetGalley for an ARC to read and independently review.* #TheAmericanQueen #NetGalley

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I like to thank NetGalley and Publisher for this ARC.


This book had me with so much emotion the main CHARACTER Louella, went through so much. From the situation with her Farther and dealing with life on Montgomery Plantation. I so connected with Louella in how outspoken she was like me if you want to see change speak up. This was excellent reading at times I had to put the book down so emotional had me in my feelings. And when LOUELLA came to check on William the tears was flowing that was so hard for me. And to think this book was base off of true event OMG. I highly recommend this amazing Novel will be on my best reads 2024.

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In this powerful historical fiction novel, Vanessa Miller has brought an incredibly overlooked historical world to life. At the end of the Civil War, a group of recently emancipated Black Americans leave Mississippi and travel northwest, ending up in North Carolina where they establish a “kingdom” where the collective good is the priority. Following Louella over several decades, readers explore the struggles of living in this collectivistic commune in the late nineteenth century as formerly enslaved Black Americans in the American South. Miller’s incredible characters and setting is brilliantly complex and historically overshadowed, and she has done an amazingly detailed restoration of this Happy Land for her readers. Her characters are complex and detailed, and Louella, as well as the other side characters, are brilliant, powerful, and kind. The female characters’ power and their subversion of several interlocking systems of power and oppression are truly enjoyable and inspiring, and Miller’s research into these women and the community shows over the course of the novel. This is a must-read book for all fans of historical fiction and for those who want more strong Black women protagonists, and it acts as an incredible starting point for readers interested in the Reconstruction movement of the late nineteenth century.

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