Carolina Built

Kianna Alexander | United States

Romance author Kianna Alexander has taken a bit of a detour from her usual genre to write an inspiring historical novel about a woman with ambitions to become a real estate mogul in 1800s North Carolina. 

Josephine Leary is one of those women who was ahead of her time, mindset-wise. Despite being born into slavery, after emancipation she is determined to educate herself and build a legacy for her family and her future children. She marries Archer Leary and together they purchase a barbershop in the town of Edenton, NC. Josephine’s ambitions stretch farther than just owning the barbershop, she’s determined to purchase, own, and conduct business as a real estate entrepreneur. She does just that by purchasing her first piece of land that she later leases to owners of carriages, buggies, and horses to hitch their vehicles and animals. 

But all is not well in her marriage. Her ambitions foster resentment, bruised pride, and gossip from local clients toward her husband, and he continuously challenges and tries to demean her with his lack of support for her efforts to grow. This friction comes a major head for them as a couple and Josephine is forced to make a decision, she never expected to have to make.

Alexander focuses mainly on Josephine’s struggle to maintain her multiple responsibilities of businesswoman, mother, wife, hairdresser, and homemaker. At times the book drags a bit focusing on the more mundane things happening in her life, and I would have liked to know more about the legal openings that came with emancipation that allowed her to buy and own property. 

But this book is well written and well-paced and we get insight into her relationships with her mother, grandmother, brother, and daughters. It’s an inspiring narrative about this real-life woman who has the strength, vision, boldness, and adroitness to pursue her dreams at a time when not only women, but black women, were considered only worthy of being homemakers.  

“My great-grandmother Amina was snatched from the shores of our ancestral home in Africa and never knew a day of freedom in this land. What would she think to know that her great-granddaughter now holds the deed to a piece of it, one that just a decade ago was likely worked by slaves?”

-Kianna Alexander

First Published: 2022
Instagram: @kiannaalexanderwrites
Twitter: @KiannaWriter

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