Pale
“Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …”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.Bernice walks the fine line between emissary and accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, and no one will come out unscathed.With a dazzling voice and rich emotional tension, Pale explores the ties that bind and how quickly humanity can fade and return us to primal ways.

Pale Details

TitlePale
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 19th, 2020
PublisherBlackstone Publishing
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, American, Southern

Pale Review

  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 perceived 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! Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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  • James Wade
    January 1, 1970
    Stunning debut from a sure-to-be prolific, young voice!
  • Andres Ocon
    January 1, 1970
    The language in this book is very descriptive, offering a tender look at individuals working in a house on a plantation in Mississippi. Edward A. Farmer describes things poetically, paying close attention to the environment as much as he does the characters. He makes objects like the house and cicada trees feel like characters in the story. Each person in the book goes through major transformations over the course of the story, with some showing growth and others deteriorating just like the hous The language in this book is very descriptive, offering a tender look at individuals working in a house on a plantation in Mississippi. Edward A. Farmer describes things poetically, paying close attention to the environment as much as he does the characters. He makes objects like the house and cicada trees feel like characters in the story. Each person in the book goes through major transformations over the course of the story, with some showing growth and others deteriorating just like the house they live in. But even the supposed antagonists are described with fairness and affection, despite their faults. There are themes of vengeance, power, circumstance, and family dynamics that make this a fascinating character study. It's partly a coming of age story and partly a tragedy about racial tension on a plantation. The style of writing is as entertaining as the narrative that plays out. Highly recommended!
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  • Mom_Loves_Reading
    January 1, 1970
    Farmer is such a very talented storyteller & writer, it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. "Pale" slowly builds tension & suspense with its complex, riveting & emotionally engaging prose. Family secrets, betrayal, lies & a woman hellbent on vindication & revenge, no matter who gets hurt on the way.."Pale" is powerful, gritty, atmospheric & utterly gripping from start to finish. Farmer is definitely a writer that we can expect more great stories from in the future. Kudos on this debut Farmer is such a very talented storyteller & writer, it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. "Pale" slowly builds tension & suspense with its complex, riveting & emotionally engaging prose. Family secrets, betrayal, lies & a woman hellbent on vindication & revenge, no matter who gets hurt on the way.."Pale" is powerful, gritty, atmospheric & utterly gripping from start to finish. Farmer is definitely a writer that we can expect more great stories from in the future. Kudos on this debut! "Pale" is available now, so add it to your TBR list & get it from your local indie bookseller today!
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  • Jennie
    January 1, 1970
    This book started off so beautifully, that I thought I'd be giving it five stars. Set in post-Jim Crow Mississippi, yet conditions were clearly dependent on one's race, unfortunately, I felt that the story dragged and went no where. However, it's clear this writer is talented and I look forward to reading his next book.
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  • Joy E Perry
    January 1, 1970
    Written very poetically, this debut by Edward A. Farmer, is a winner! The story begins in 1966 when Bernie moves to a Mississippi plantation where her brother Floyd works: The Kern plantation. Another woman, Silva works there as well and brings her two young sons Fletcher and Jesse to work there one summer. Thereby really begins the story of the Kerns and the workers and families. This book is very well written and i literally read it through from beginning to end with little room to eat and sle Written very poetically, this debut by Edward A. Farmer, is a winner! The story begins in 1966 when Bernie moves to a Mississippi plantation where her brother Floyd works: The Kern plantation. Another woman, Silva works there as well and brings her two young sons Fletcher and Jesse to work there one summer. Thereby really begins the story of the Kerns and the workers and families. This book is very well written and i literally read it through from beginning to end with little room to eat and sleep. I could not put it down. I went thru a gauntlet of feelings while reading this engrossing tale of family, love, betrayal and death.I highly recommend this book. Thanks to Edelweiss, the author, and the publisher for an advanced review copy of this treasure in exchange for my honest review.
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  • O Prism
    January 1, 1970
    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 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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  • Trinidad Cisneros
    January 1, 1970
    Contrary to the meaning of this book's title, "Pale" is anything but lacking in color, or depth. Instead, it's a rich exploration of unresolved trauma, family, brokenness, and somewhere deep within that intersectionality, hope. This story takes place in the 1960s, in the rural back country of Mississippi, where the young jilted Bernice takes employment at a plantation her brother works. It is in this beautifully described space that Bernice bears witness to the aftermass of unfettered grief, uns Contrary to the meaning of this book's title, "Pale" is anything but lacking in color, or depth. Instead, it's a rich exploration of unresolved trauma, family, brokenness, and somewhere deep within that intersectionality, hope. This story takes place in the 1960s, in the rural back country of Mississippi, where the young jilted Bernice takes employment at a plantation her brother works. It is in this beautifully described space that Bernice bears witness to the aftermass of unfettered grief, unspoken love, and a witness to the chain reaction trauma can cause. Because as the author may argue, unresolved issues will not only break a person, but it will also drive them to break others. In many ways, this story is the story of so many Americans, and it's a tragic reminder that trauma echos across generations, creating one sad story, only to reincarnate in another... until this chain reaction is broken, and if you asked Bernice, she would probably agree that as heavy as a chain might feel, it should never lock you down. This book certainly has weight, but the author has such a graceful way of recounting this story that it's half poetry, and half plot, and 100% worth your read.
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  • Denice Langley
    January 1, 1970
    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 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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  • Annie Bomke
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely loved this book!  It had me riveted from the first page.  The writing is gorgeous, and the sense of place is so immersive.  You really feel the oppressiveness of the heat, the tedium of farm life, the isolation of the plantation and how trapped the characters are.  It's a deeply psychological book about race, power and what it means to belong.  Edward Farmer is a fierce new talent.
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  • Arlena
    January 1, 1970
    Title: PaleAuthor: Edward FarmerPublisher: Blackstone PublishingReviewed By: Arlena DeanRating: FourReview:"Pale" by Edward FarmerMy 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 w Title: PaleAuthor: Edward FarmerPublisher: Blackstone PublishingReviewed By: Arlena DeanRating: FourReview:"Pale" by Edward FarmerMy 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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  • Heather L
    January 1, 1970
    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 o 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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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    Mississippi in the summer of 1966 is like a fly in amber. Things have legally changed since the Civil War but economic circumstance and privilege continue to hold African Americans in positions of servility. Told from the perspective of Bernice, a woman has had a tough go of it, this is the story of a cotton plantation and the people who live there. The Missus is an angry woman who has just discovered how she was betrayed. Her fury will reverberates though the servants, especially to Jesse and F Mississippi in the summer of 1966 is like a fly in amber. Things have legally changed since the Civil War but economic circumstance and privilege continue to hold African Americans in positions of servility. Told from the perspective of Bernice, a woman has had a tough go of it, this is the story of a cotton plantation and the people who live there. The Missus is an angry woman who has just discovered how she was betrayed. Her fury will reverberates though the servants, especially to Jesse and Fletcher, the sons of Silva, who works with Bernice inside the house. No spoilers on the secret. This is atmospheric (you'll feel the heat) if a bit slow. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. A good debut from a writer to watch.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    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, 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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  • Claire Carroll
    January 1, 1970
    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. #NetGalley
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  • SUE HOBSON
    January 1, 1970
    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 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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  • Lelapin
    January 1, 1970
    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. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an A 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. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.
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  • Julian Fray
    January 1, 1970
    The opening chapter introduces our narrator, Bernie, and the description of her never-satisfied longing for the husband who abandoned her, coming in waves of hope and desperation, previews the emotional journey that awaits those at the Kern plantation. In that first chapter, I was easily lulled into complacency by the gorgeous descriptions of the heat and the cotton, although that sense of comfort proved to be momentary. The well-timed reveals in the book kept me moving along, while the unhurrie The opening chapter introduces our narrator, Bernie, and the description of her never-satisfied longing for the husband who abandoned her, coming in waves of hope and desperation, previews the emotional journey that awaits those at the Kern plantation. In that first chapter, I was easily lulled into complacency by the gorgeous descriptions of the heat and the cotton, although that sense of comfort proved to be momentary. The well-timed reveals in the book kept me moving along, while the unhurried descriptions grounded me in 1960s Mississippi life.Bernie’s time at the Kern plantation is filled with subtle and not-so-subtle horrors against the workers there. The oppression of black folk in the Civil Rights Era south is well documented, but though the author makes mention of some of these broader truths, he truly captures the dehumanization of Bernie and all the workers in his descriptions of their day-to-day interactions with the Kerns. It isn’t until Chapter 16, halfway through the book, that the Missus asks Bernie a personal question – whether she has any children. This thoughtlessness, after Bernie had been on the plantation for years at that point, interacting with the Missus every day and tending to her ailing needs, highlights the devastatingly simple ways that the workers were degraded.As you read, pay attention to the description of the cotton. It starts with a picture of cotton bolls, light and beautiful, innocent. As the evil begins to manifest in the book, the words used to describe the cotton turn equally malevolent.
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  • Erricka Hager
    January 1, 1970
    This was an okay read. There were a lot of character voices and stories to follow. The beginning of the book was intriguing and then at some point it started to drag. The story follows our main character Bernice to a cotton plantation where her brother also works because her husband up and left her. Pale continues to discuss how the various lies, deception and master vs slave narratives impacts the lives of the people who work/reside at the Kern Plantation in 1960s Mississippi.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    First of all, I found this book beautifully and lyrically written. It looks at life on a Mississippi cotton plantation in the 1960s through the eyes of a black house maid. This is an edifying and moving book. It is, to me, probably a 4.7 star read - rounded to 5.
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  • Tamika Farmer
    January 1, 1970
    Great story! I was really surprised in the last chapter regarding Fletcher and baby David. Although this was not a book I would typically read, I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to future books by this author.
  • Ariel Payne
    January 1, 1970
    What a stunning debut novel.
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