I love stories of race relations. I’ve always held a special place in my heart for novels about American history when black and white issues were at the heart of civil rights…I’ve always been intrigued by “passing” and how our society made life so hard for those impacted by discrimination and hatred. It’s heartbreaking that people just couldn’t be who they were born to be because of the color of their skin … because even an ounce of African-American blood in their blood-line “tainted” who they were. I’ve been so mystified by this that my two senior year projects for undergraduate were based on the novel Passing by Nella Larson (which is an amazing book that I highly recommend).
Iron Lace is a great novel because it not only ventures into racial relations but it also intertwines them with love, families, and history so much that you’re immersed in the tale of Aurore (Le Danois) Gerritson and Rafe Cantrelle so much that you wished you could turn back time for them and make everything “all better.” Aurore and Rafe are connected because his mother was her father’s mistress. A terrible hurricane ripped a part Rafe’s family, and because he had “slave” blood in his bloodline due to a previous lover of his mother’s, he was forced to “pass” in New Orleans white society so that he would have the chance at revenge on Aurore’s father due to his involvement in Rafe’s mother and sister’s deaths.
If that weren’t hard to swallow enough, through Rafe’s plot to destroy Lucien (Aurore’s father), he falls in love with Aurore and their love story is heartbreaking as Rafe is involved in Lucien’s death … and Lucien “outs” Rafe’s bloodline to Aurore who becomes pregnant with Rafe’s child. The story continues throughout the lives of Aurore and Rafe and how their lives continue to always circle back to each other … always impacted by something terrible outside of their control.
I think this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and if you’re interested in civil rights history, with a touch of a love-story, then this is the book for you.