Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Receive Me Falling by Erika Robuck, a haunting multi-period Caribbean mystery

Being home so much during the pandemic has given me time to catch up with novels I’d purchased a long time ago. Erika Robuck’s Receive Me Falling is her first, self-published novel, which came out in 2009, and I’ve had it on my shelf for about that long. If you haven’t read it before, now’s a choice time to pick it up, since its setting and themes are especially timely with the craze for all things Hamilton and the current #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Skillfully jumping between the present day and the 1830s, using the popular dual-narrative format, Robuck zooms in on a sugar cane plantation, Eden, on the Caribbean island of Nevis (Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace) and its haunted history.

Meg Owen, a 33-year-old woman who works for Maryland’s controversial governor, is distraught when her parents die in a car crash the night after her engagement party. One of the properties they owned was an old plantation house on Nevis, and to clear her head, Meg travels to see her inheritance for herself. After she learns the shocking true state of her father’s financial affairs, finding the right buyer for the house and land becomes pressing.

Nearly two hundred years earlier, Catherine Dall lives with her alcoholic father, Cecil, at Eden, and oversees its sugar cane production, an operation dependent on the labor of over 200 enslaved people. Catherine believes herself to be a kind mistress and proves receptive to opinions shared by two British visitors, a father and son, who are pretending to be scoping out a site for a plantation of their own while secretly laying the groundwork for the abolitionist movement.

With its turquoise waters, cool sea breezes, and many varieties of colorful flowers filling the landscape, Nevis would be an idyllic paradise – if not for knowledge of its former residents’ slave-owning past. Meg has the option to sell to a developer who would transform the now-decrepit estate into a plantation-style resort, and she needs the money, but she finds that idea insensitive and distasteful. Catherine, meanwhile, is a wealthy young woman whose outlook reflects her time. While she may personally dislike slavery and is horrified by the actions taken by her father’s stereotypically cruel overseer, her lifestyle is so ingrained in the system that she’s unable to see a way out of it.

It’s up to Meg to sift through old artifacts and uncover, with the help of a local historian, what factors contributed to Eden’s downfall so long ago. As is rarely the case with multi-period novels, I found the modern narrative grabbed me the most, with its emphasis on sifting through the remnants of the past and its refreshingly non-standard romantic subplot.


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful review, Sarah. I love that you took a chance on my first (self-published) book.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Erika! I enjoyed the novel and am glad to have read it (at last!).

    1. Explained it very beautifully and thoughtfully.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book.

  4. I enjoyed it - thanks for commenting!

  5. Thank you for sharing

  6. Thank You ! for this wonderful review of the book. You shared it in a beautiful way.