Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

A More Perfect Union

by Tammye Huf

Debut Books of the Month Debuts Historical Fiction Literary Fiction Relationship Stories Sharing Diverse Voices Star Books

LoveReading View on A More Perfect Union

Based on her great-great grandparents’ experiences, Tammye Huf’s A More Perfect Union is a heart-rending, soul-stirring story of the love between a black slave and an Irish immigrant. A lucid, bold tale of the despicable brutality of slavery, personal conflicts, and a bond that will not be broken.

Henry O’Toole fled Ireland in 1848 to escape the famine. On arriving in New York, “America stabs me with homesickness” and he can’t find a job - “Every day it’s the same. No Irish”. Compelled to flee the city, he changes his surname to the English-sounding ‘Taylor’ and heads to Virginia.

House slave Sarah is separated from her Momma and brother when she’s sold as a “quick-cleaning-slave-who-don’t-get-sick”. She and Henry meet when he comes seeking work as a blacksmith at the plantation she’s been sold to. Here Henry is moved by the sound of slaves singing at night, while Sarah paces her hoe in the kitchen garden to “the rhythmic strike of the blacksmith’s hammer”. The stirring attraction between them is palpable, but theirs is a forbidden relationship - inter-racial marriage is illegal, and viewed as an abomination. What’s more, she’s owned by another man.

The couple are in an excruciating situation, their complex personal conflicts evoked with shattering clarity. Sarah has to reconcile loving a man whose white skin represents her oppression, and she’s also ostracised by fellow slaves. Then there’s the searing exchange when Sarah sees Henry making neck rings and shackles. When he protests that he has no choice, that he needs to earn money, that he knows what it is to be shackled by poverty, Sarah’s response captures the despicable inhumanity of enslavement: “’I know you been through a hard, hungry life,’ she says. ‘I want you to understand that slave suffering is a different thing. When somebody owns you, there ain’t nothing they can’t do to you.’” 

Both their voices are conjured with brilliant authenticity, and their story builds to an agonisingly edgy crescendo as the risks they take are as immense as their love. I cannot recommend this enough.

Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Joanne Owen

A More Perfect Union Synopsis

A breathtaking, romantic debut novel by Tammye Huf. Based on the true story of the author’s great-great grand-parents, A More Perfect Union is an epic love story between an Irish immigrant and a black slave, set in the pre-Civil War Southern state of Virginia in 1849 when inter-racial marriage was illegal.

When Henry O’Toole escapes the Irish famine and sails to America, he doesn’t expect the anti-Irish prejudices that await him. Determined never to starve again, he changes his name to Henry Taylor to secure a job and safeguard his future. Traveling south to Virginia, he meets Sarah, a slave woman torn from her family and sold to another plantation. There she must navigate the power system of the white masters, as well as the hierarchy of her fellow slaves.

Even though Henry’s white skin represents the oppression Sarah suffers under, and even though having Sarah at his side would force Henry to abandon his hopes of prosperity, their attraction is undeniable and they fall in love. But in 1849 on a Virginian plantation, inter-racial marriage is not only illegal but considered to be an ungodly abomination. No matter how much they want to be together, Sarah is trapped on Jubilee Plantation, owned by another man.

This is a love story of epic proportions—a forbidden relationship that has been forged in secrecy, and faces betrayal and jeopardy at every turn.

Win Free Tickets to a Virtual Evening with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and All 25 Women’s Prize for Fiction Winning Books!

Win Free Tickets to a Virtual Evening with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and All 25 Women’s Prize for Fiction Winning Books!

Closing date: 03/12/2020

The Women’s Prize for Fiction are delighted to be hosting a live virtual evening with global bestselling novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has just been crowned the 'Winner of Winners' from 25 years of Women's Prize winning books. The event will be held on Sunday 6 December at 7pm GMT. To claim a pair of free tickets and win a bundle containing all 25 Women's Prize for Fiction winning books, please answer the question below... What was the title of the book written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which won the 2007 Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2020 ‘Winner of Winners’? Don't miss out, get your ticket to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie live now: This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 3rd December 2020. The online event will take place at 7pm on Sunday 6th December. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

Enter Now

If you loved this, you might like these...

This Mournable Body
Who They Was
The Innocents
Burnt Sugar

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781912408894
Publication date: 15/10/2020
Publisher: Myriad Editions
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781912408894
Publication date: 15th October 2020
Author: Tammye Huf
Publisher: Myriad Editions
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: Debuts of the Month, Debuts, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Relationship Stories, Diverse Voices, Star Books,
Categories: Historical fiction, Historical romance, Slavery & abolition of slavery,

About Tammye Huf

More About Tammye Huf

Share this book