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Summary

Olivia's marriage to an African-American man was unacceptable to her mother Emma, Southern-bred descendant of prominent South Carolina slaveholders. Olivia assumed that bigotry was the product of her mother's loyalty to long-dead relatives, an allegiance to maintain the family's white blood line. After Emma's death though, Olivia finds a letter and an old journal among her belongings. Soon, she discovers the secret that prompted Emma to irrationally blame an entire race - a secret that had nothing to do with family history, although it strongly paralleled another tragic event from the past.

1846, Marianne Witherell's journal: Before Lincoln and the American Civil War, slavery is at its peak in South Carolina. A young slave girl named Willa suddenly arrives at Heavenly Plantation with her mother Heddie, destined to serve the wealthy plantation family as house servants. Right away, two of the Master's children - Marianne and Seth - forge a bond with Willa, in spite of their older brother Foster's warnings about the evils of mixing with the "darkies".

Although she grows up in the "big house" treated like family by her pair of white friends, Willa cannot forget that she is still a slave. Never is that fact made clearer than when Foster cruelly taunts and threatens her in secret. As it threads through the lives of its diverse characters, this novel captures the complicated and often violent nature of life in the antebellum South.

As Willa's story is told, a dramatic tapestry is woven, binding the Witherell family to a web of secrets that include forbidden love and faithful friendships alongside dangerous obsessions, mental instability, and even murder.

©2013 Teresa Robison (P)2016 Teresa Robison

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • LSM
  • 31-07-16

Great Story Wrong Choice of Narrator

The story was amazing, however the narrator was not suited for this particular story. He has a nice voice but his voice tones and fluctuations did match the story. For one the main character and several of the other characters were female so I was forced to try and re translate most of the story into a female voice that the characters may have had. Also the way he read was not right. There was a persistent tone and fluctuation of voice that no matter what was being read, dramatic and sad or joyful and happy, did not change. But the story kept me listening. I would re buy and re listen to this book again if a more suited narrator read it.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Kim
  • 29-06-16

Don't waste a credit

What would have made The Secrets of Heavenly better?

The narration of this book is THE WORST. Why in the world would you have a male narrator when most of the character dialogue is female. I've only listened to an hour or so and it's so boring and the narration so bad that I had to stop. I'm so mad to have lost a credit on this one.

What could Teresa Robison have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Picked a better narrator.

Would you be willing to try another one of Chris Abell’s performances?

NO

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amy
  • 23-06-16

Good story with bad performance

I enjoyed the story but had a hard time listening to the performer. He just doesn't have the right voice for the various characters

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Beatrice Ellison
  • 16-06-17

Heavenly

loved it. where is book 2? I have no problem reading this book again. Thanks

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • thatssocute
  • 09-02-17

Predictable, slow

Only finished it because I started it, wanted to stop several times, hard to finish

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • topcitydiva
  • 08-02-17

Great detail

Great story! I couldn't wait to plug in everyday. I felt like the ending was rushed . I would like to hear "the rest of the story" . I will be reading book 2! Also, the narrator does a remarkable job . I felt like I was watching a movie.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gail B.
  • 04-02-17

Did not care for narrator

The storyline and overall content was good. The narrator was not appropriate for this type of content.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Betty A. Kane
  • 28-10-16

Interesting story

The story was captivating and the performance allowed the listener to be taken back to period of the story. I didn't want the story to end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-10-16

Exceptional!

This was a great read. I like that it went into a lot of detail about the personal experience of slavery in the South. I was also glad that they pointed out that not all southerners condoned slavery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Ingraham
  • 28-03-18

AMAZING BOOK! A Must Read!

Where does The Secrets of Heavenly rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It ranks up in the top 10!

What other book might you compare The Secrets of Heavenly to and why?

I would compare it to Roots! This is not a part of US History most people like to discuss, but it IS part of our History! While Roots is a true story, The Secrets of Heavenly, does give us a glimpse of what life was like back then. It also brings forth the "secrets" of Interracial love back then.

What about Chris Abell’s performance did you like?

He did an exceptional job!

Who was the most memorable character of The Secrets of Heavenly and why?

Willa was the most memorable character for me. She was engaging and I felt it was "her" story even though there were many other characters.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed this book and can't wait for Book 2!!!