Review: Carolina Built
CAROLINA BUILT - Kianna Alexander
Gallery Books

Brenda Larnell (A)
REVIEW: Prolific author, Kianna Alexander has written a sterling fictional account based on the life of Josephine Napoleon Leary, who was born into slavery and through determination, financial savvy, and a never give-up spirit, goes on to build a real estate empire. I must confess that I had never heard of Josephine Leary until I read Ms. Alexander’s story of her life. I have read some of the Contemporary Romance stories of Ms. Alexander, but this is my first Historical. She does an exceptional job!

Josephine Leary’s story is set in Edenton, North Carolina, and concentrates on her life after slavery. The author’s account of Josephine’s life is riveting. Her dream of being financially independent as a business woman and a landowner unfolds as she faces and overcomes one challenge after another to achieve her goals. It’s mind blowing to realize that Mrs. Leary accomplished so much in the post-Civil War era. The challenges came from her husband, Sweety, to white men who ruled the sector of business that she sought to stake her claim, real estate. The family dynamic is challenging enough, where Josephine worked with her husband as a licensed barber in one of the buildings that she eventually owned. I’m telling you that Josephine Leary’s story is one of determination, courage and tenacity that you will appreciate as this Black woman not only stakes her claim in the business world of the late 1800’s, but also manages to raise a family. I love the way the author depicts the husband-wife relationship of Josephine and Sweety, and how Sweety, as the head of the family, deals with his wife’s ambition.

The supporting characters play prominent roles in helping to move the storyline along. The story of Josephine K. Leary is an example of brilliant writing, documented historical research, masterful pacing and memorable complex characters. To top it off, the author provides the reader with valuable documentation that is like the proverbial cherry on top.

Although Josephine N. Leary is a lesser-known historical figure, her story,
CAROLINA BUILT, is certainly one that is worthy of adding to your library.  Kudos to author, Kianna Alexander, for her fictionalized account of this intriguing woman who took her entrepreneurial skills to a whole different level. I highly recommend this book for your entertainment and education.

28th February 2022 |