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The life-changing story of the pre-Civil War South
Based on the life of Henriette Delille, a 19th-century free woman of color who co-founded a New Orleans-based order of African American nuns, this historic novel is a testimony to how each of us has the power to transform the world.
In this new novel, Oscar-winning writer William Kelley tells the true story of a young, southern, female quadroon who overcame the racial prejudice of the pre-civil war era to create a religious order dedicated to caring for destitute and dying blacks. Yearning to help the poorest of the poor in New Orleans, Henriette Delille tried to join charitable religious orders, but was turned away because of her “Negro blood.” Taking fate into her own hands she cofounded The Sisters of the Holy Family, an order that for over a century has led the fight to improving living conditions for African Americans in the southern United States. Henriette’s astonishing and inspirational story, told through a masterful interweaving of the narratives of her personal life and Father Etienne Rousselon’s, is a testimony to one woman’s devotion and her resulting ability to change the world around her.
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"Miss Henriette Delille had for long years consecrated herself totally to God without reservation to the instruction of the ignorant and principally to the slave. To perpetuate this kind of apostolate, so different yet so necessary, she had founded with the help of certain pious persons the House of the Holy Family, a house poor and little known except by the poor and the young, and which for the past ten or twelve years has produced, quietly, a considerable good which will continue.
Having never heard of philanthropy, this poor maid has done more than the great philanthropists with their systems so brilliant yet so vain."
—New Orleans Tribune