River Oaks Plantation [Kindle Edition]
Margaret Jane Turnrow first laid eyes on River Oaks Plantation amid lush foliage and oak trees dripping with Spanish moss when she returned from her honeymoon as a petite hazel-eyed fifteen-year-old bride to the antebellum mansion. She immediately fell in love with the house and grounds and beautifying the garden with plants. Her first task involved lining the oak drive with azaleas. Determined to have the best plantation gardens, she soon recreated formal ones designed from precious memories of France, Italy, and England she’d toured on her honeymoon. Before the Civil War, she imported plants, and gardening became her passion. During the war, it was her only one. The fertile Louisiana soil loved and nursed her plants as much as she did, and they grew like the cotton and sugarcane.
Pale as a magnolia blossom, she sparkled like the sun reflecting off Lake Pontchartrain when she flashed pearly white teeth with her camellia red smile, but small white hands tucked demurely into the folds of her gown as she sat quietly during elegant dinners, concealed her true vivacious spirit. The war would change the shy woman-child as it ravaged through her life and took its toll on the home and family life she came to know and love with all of her heart.
Before the Civil War, dashing Danny Paul Turnrow stood six-foot-two-inches, as tall and elegant as the white-columned plantation home he’d purchased on the banks of the Mississippi River. He led a charmed life as a charismatic cotton baron known as one of the richest men on River Road. River Oaks boasted over thirty-five-hundred acres of fertile Louisiana soil, mostly planted in cotton with the exception of some sugarcane along the Mississippi River banks and his wife’s gardens.
He returned from the war a different man, as broken as the pillared splendor of the South. Surrounded by cypress swamps and sugarcane fields on the river’s end and white blankets of cotton edging the dirt roads, River Oaks Plantation still stood, but the grand life he’d led turned to one of backbreaking toil. He no longer stood so tall and proud with an aching back hunched over Louisiana cotton fields.
With the future uncertain, fear lurks in his heart and soul and clouds his mind. What will sustain his marriage through the loss? Can they defend what’s most precious to them and maintain River Oaks as a working plantation? The manor home is the only legacy he has left and the only life he has ever known. Will he lose it?
Years later, Amaryllis Camilla O’Brien is stranded alone with two dogs on the top floor of an antebellum plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, as a deadly hurricane rips and roars through the city and raging floodwaters threaten to devour the old home. She discovers a yellowed diary. Will family secrets drown in the flood with her? Will the diary matter? She’s determined to save it and the dogs, or die trying. Has her grandmother left her a sinking ship?
Noah Gautreaux, the plantation manager, took vehicles to higher ground and is supposed to return, but will he make it in time to save Amaryllis and his pet girls? The old house withstood the floods of 1973, 1983, and 1993. He doesn’t think he has to worry about it floating off down the Mississippi River, but as excessive rain and wind continue to batter the area and the water continues to rise when the levee breaches, he realizes there’s a first time for everything and this could be it for the white-columned beauty of ages past. Will the plantation, the only woman he’s ever loved, and his pets drown or be blown away? Can he save what’s most precious to him? Will River Oaks ever be the same, or will Katrina destroy what the Civil War spared?