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Ashley's own problems increase as she plunges headlong into a maelstrom of mixed race torments with Kevin, the black man she wanted to love, and Doug, the white man she is determined--out of loyalty to her father's race--not to love.The women of the past, through their experiences and their recorded thoughts, steady her as she passes through a dark night of the soul and faces hard choices about where she belongs and which man she belongs with.
A book with two story lines, The Women of Stormland flashes back and forth between past and present, linking both in an interracial crisis as old as America and as contemporary as the morning newspaper.
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How can one person bring himself to enslave another? One way is to denigrate the enslaved person as less than human. Ashley Pennington, of mixed race, knows this trauma in her own soul. Ashley has faced a lifetime of struggle to find her place in society. Does she belong in the black world or the white?
Sent by her family to learn about her white roots, she must live with relatives less than eager to accept a black cousin. As she researches her family's past, she flip flops in her search for identity, and her uncertainty is reflected in her relationships with the men she is beginning to care for. Of the two enigmatic charmers in her life, she feels she can't possibly choose. Black or white? Either way, her loyalties to the other side interfere with her decision.
Ashley Pennington had no idea what she might encounter when she began reading--under protest--the diaries and letters of her forebears. Of mixed race and deeply resentful of the fact, Ashley felt their lives as white women couldn't possibly interest her. Yet she is soon caught up in surprising discoveries of the difficulties the women of an earlier generation faced in both their career paths and their love lives.
How does a young woman who's never been allowed to learn anything about sex handle the first man who gets her out on a lonely road in a buggy and makes a pass at her? Should she defend herself and risk losing her man? Or should she do what her sister-in-law has just done, succumb and then insist on a shotgun wedding? Aunt Alana and Aunt Vi--two old ladies in Ashley's view--suddenly become two young women facing life's hardest dilemma, a dilemma involving their entire future. And Ashley's own grandmother, Millie, is not far behind them in her problems of career versus men. A new world opens to Ashley as she begins to understand the fog of ignorance, of not telling, not knowing about their own bodies and what marriage really meant, that former generations of women had to cope with.
Okay, so here I am, sitting in the Grand Rapids airport awaiting my third cousin twice removed whom I've never met, and holding before my eyes a magazine I'm not reading. Don't ask me why I'm here; I hardly know, myself. I just wish I were elsewhere.
My name is Ashley Pennington. I feel silly when I say that. Ashley Pennington--it sounds hoity toity, a name belonging to a white chick, a southern white chick whose daddy owns a mansion with white columns overlooking the Mississippi. I'm not in that category. Even in the spring, like now, when my face is without tan, it's never light enough for me to pass as white. By late summer my hair, which ironically is soft and brown, no kinks, is lighter than my face. And though Dad's a Naval officer, he doesn't own a mansion with pillars. He owns a suburban California ranchhouse where we've had garbage put in our mailbox to tell us we're not welcome.
In short, I'm a half-and-half person with a white mom and black dad. I never know where I belong except for sure it's not in a southern mansion. In high school I sometimes got good grades and then cringed because the other black kids gave me dirty looks. Later I opted for bad grades even thoughI felt embarrassed when the white kids stopped associating with me.
Worrying that I won't know my cousin when I see him, I eyeball the people walking around the waiting area. Mom had no recent pictures. But no doubt Doug will know me. I'm unique, ha ha.