"You must promise me to go back to Wisdom one day. You see, little girl, Wisdom is your source. It's where your blood was born..."
The words of her grandfather echo in her ears as Maia Ransom, a nurse from Michigan, arrives on the Caribbean island of St. Croix for the first time. Captured by the wild beauty of the towering palm trees, cobalt sea and endless cerulean sky, Maia is instantly smitten with her ancestral home. The welcome she receives from the local people only deepens her sense that her grandfather's words were true: St. Croix is where she truly belongs.
For something critical is at stake with this visit. Though Maia has always been curious about the great estate her grandfather lovingly described—a magnificent plantation with a gracious house and fields of cane as far as the eyes could see—her return to Wisdom has suddenly become vital. A private woman with no lover, no family and no children, Maia is slowly succumbing to the same disease that killed her mother. She has this one chance to uncover the rich history of her once-enslaved ancestors—and the will to fight for her life.
When Maia locates the estate she discovers the once grand manor now crumbling in disrepair, and inhabited by the dissolute, alcoholic, and severely ill Severin Johanssen, the last descendant of a slaveholding dynasty. Determined to discover whatever she can about her family's past, Maia leaps at the chance to take up residence at Wisdom in the role of Severin's temporary nurse.
Soon she meets Noah Langston, a striking Crucian lawyer who is doing all he can to help his people rise up to self-sufficiency. Noah kindles emotions in Maia that she never expected to feel. But what he discovers about her family will shock them both to the core: Wisdom is not only her legacy—it might hold the key to her future. And there are people who will do everything in their power to keep Maia from fulfilling her destiny.
With a clear eye and a poet's heart, Heather Neff has written a sweeping romantic novel of struggle, family secrets, and making the profound choice between hiding safely from the truth or leaping through uncertainty towards true love. Fighting for Wisdom is ultimately a fight to save one's soul.
Wisdom was the recipient of an Honor Book Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Praise for Wisdom
"Wisdom by Heather Neff is a rich and colorful story about a woman in search of her past. In Wisdom, we meet Maia Ransom, a visitor to the island of St. Croix who has adapted to the Crucian lifestyle like a native. Maia is drawn to the island after years of hearing about the estate Wisdom. Wisdom is the place where her ancestors served as slaves and it harbors many secrets about Maia's family and the Johanssens, the landowners of the estate.
Heather Neff tells a vibrant story of a woman trying to find her destiny through her family's history. Maia is a strong and mysterious character who will capture readers from the first page. Neff makes readers care about her and she lays the ground work for the readers to develop a beautiful relation-ship with Maia through writing that is often lyrical and poetic. The island of St. Croix is described in such magnificent detail that is sure to motivate a trip or two among readers. The supporting characters are also colorful, full of life, and memorable.
Wisdom is a poignant read told by a master storyteller. Heather Neff is an extremely talented writer with a flare for description and building compelling characters."
—Reviewed by Diane Marbury (HonestD).
"It took me just a few pages to dive into this unusually intelligent book, filled with suspense! This novel is very refreshing, full of unexpected twists and turns. It's a stunning blend of history and fiction, emotions and realism. The visual quality reminded me of Blackgammon, Heather Neff's first and also outstanding novel!"
"While Blackgammon made me wander the streets of Europe, Wisdom made me want to wake up in the Caribbean again, even if it meant to face the mixed past of this region. It makes you long for that quiet corner, where you can tune out everything around you and step into another world. I can't wait for the next book by Heather Neff!"
An Undiscovered Treasure
"Wisdom takes its place among the top ten books that I have read this year. It amazes me that this book has gone virtually undiscovered and unpraised by the literary arena while other less skillfully written, shallow books receive high praise simply because the authors name is one that is 'recognized'???
Wisdom is a beautiful story about the determination of a woman who, in what she believes are her last days, sets out to discover who she really is and who her ancesters were—to reclaim her family.
The book is set in St. Croix and Ms. Neff gives the reader a front row view of the beauty and mystery of the island and its history and culture as the story of Wisdom unfolds. From start to finish this is a story that holds your attention and draws on your emotions. I can easily envision this story as a movie that would receive rave reviews.
I applaud Ms. Neff and thank her for the time devoted to writing a literary treasure! I look forward to her next. . .Wisdom is a must-read!"
Cover art by Heather Neff