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Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

Book Details

BOOK NAMEYellow Wife
AUTHORSadeqa Johnson
CATEGORYHistorical Fiction
PUBLISHERSimon & Schuster
PUBLISHING DATE12 January 2021
DIMENSIONS15.24 x 2.54 x 22.86 cm

Yellow Wife Review

This story is inspired by the story of Mary Lumpkin and Lumpkin’s jail in Richmond, Virginia.

Bell Plantation, Charles City, Virginia, 1850. Pheby Delores Brown, after losing her mother and after broken promise of freedom, she is being sold to traders. At an auction, she is “rescued by gentleman’s kindness.” Rubin Lapier is the owner of the jail, where Pheby spent the night before the auction. And now is one of the workers at the jail sewing, mostly mending clothing. Her constant companion is “the click-clack sounds” of slaves’ iron confinements and “the moaning from inside the jail…” Should she follow in the footsteps of a woman she saw at the market? A woman like her, who isn’t free, “yet she lived a life better than some white women.” There is a reason why the jail is called the Devil’s Half Acre. Whenever she thinks she can endure this place, there is a reminder that she cannot.

The fastest page-turner ever and heart-pounding read. On one hand, the jail owner, known as the Bully Trader and on the other, a beautiful young slave woman. He is one of the cruelest people if not the cruelest person in town. He trades slaves without any scruples and enforces brutal punishments when requested by other slave owners. He is also a master of his “wife,” who is forced first to make the right decision for herself and later for her children. Once a mother she needs to protect her children at any cost.

This story brings heart-wrenching scenes of flogging, of slaves bidding, degrading transactions and agony of mothers being separated from their children and other members of the family. It’s all very real.

This is a story of an extraordinary woman, who learns that as a mulatto she is worth more than a black slave. She was promised freedom at the age of eighteen. When that eludes her, she weighs her options very carefully. Does she want to be a run-away slave or make a life out of situation the life presented her with?

With riveting prose the pages fly and the heart beats for the astonishing heroine. Well-developed character pulls you into the story immediately and stirs emotions within you. A grim time of history masterfully narrated.

2021 NEW Release: Yellow wife book review

Yellow Wife Summary

Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.

She’d been promised freedom on her eighteenth birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.

About Author Sadeqa Johnson

Sadeqa Johnson is the award-winning author of four novels. Her accolades include the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Book Award, and the USA Best Book Award for Best Fiction. She is a Kimbilio Fellow, former board member of the James River Writers, and a Tall Poppy Writer. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children. To learn more, visit

FAQ on Sadeqa Johnson

Who is Sadeqa Johnson?

Sadeqa Johnson is an American author and speaker. She has written several novels, including “Yellow Wife,” “Love in a Carry-On Bag,” and “The Last Thing She Ever Did.” She is also a speaker on the topics of writing and publishing.

Where did Sadeqa Johnson study?

Sadeqa Johnson is a graduate of The New School’s MFA program in Creative Writing.

What are some of Sadeqa Johnson’s books?

Sadeqa Johnson has written several novels, including “Yellow Wife,” “Love in a Carry-On Bag,” and “The Last Thing She Ever Did.”

In which publications has Sadeqa Johnson been featured?

Sadeqa Johnson has been featured in various publications, including The Huffington Post, The Root, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Where does Sadeqa Johnson live?

Sadeqa Johnson lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her family.

What are the themes of Sadeqa Johnson’s novels?

Sadeqa Johnson’s novels often explore themes of family, love, and self-discovery.

Yellow Wife

This story is inspired by the story of Mary Lumpkin and Lumpkin’s jail in Richmond, Virginia.


Author: Sadeqa Johnson

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