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Marly
A Planter’s Life in Jamaica
Anonymous; edited by Karina Williamson

5” x 7 3/4” • 400 pages
ISBN 9780333974025 • paperback • $15.00

When the young Scotsman George Marly arrives in Jamaica in 1816, his only ambition is to recover his inheritance. But before long he falls in love with the daughter of Simon McFathom, the unscrupulous attorney whose sharp practices have deprived him of his ancestral estate. Will Marly be able to win back his grandfather’s plantation of Happy Fortune and secure the hand of the beauteous Miss McFathom?

Written by a Scotsman who had experienced life on a sugar estate at first hand, the novel (originally published in Glasgow at the height of the British debate about colonial slavery) offers us vivid details of the complexities of Jamaican society in the last years before Emancipation. Glimpses of the daily routine of a plantation appear with an almost cinematic realism, and we are introduced not just to the busha and the book-keeper, but also to the slave boilers and artisans, the domestics and hot-house attendants, the drivers and the field-hands, and even to the obeah-man and the runaway. The planting attorney from Argyllshire who will only hire book-keepers who can speak Gaelic is just one of many reminders of the prominence of Scotsmen in the development of Jamaica and the British colonial empire.   

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