Island Queen – Book Review

Thank you to the publisher William Morrow for this gifted book.

“And don’t you ever take abuse or dim your light because of a fool. You’re remarkable. The rest of us are trying to catch up.”

“You have to love yourself for more than a moment, ’cause moments pass.”

—Island Queen, Vanessa Riley

What book(s) have you read recently that you have regrettably torn yourself away from the people, places, & emotions? As much as you eagerly anticipate finishing, you feel equally upset by the prospect of not living with everyone & everything in the pages of said book(s)?

Island Queen, based on the true life of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, has no been that book for me. This book was/is so good I’m thinking a mile a minute but can’t write/ type as fast to capture and articulate succinctly the essence of how INCREDIBLE this book was to me. I DIDN’T want my time with Dorothy and her family to conclude. I didn’t want to stop immersing myself in her life, in her skin, in her circumstances. I felt as if she was teaching me so much all these years later, but I’m hungry to know more.

Easy to say this is one of my FAVORITE reads of 2021 and in my opinion, FANTASTIC. This cup of Earl Grey and the cupcakes made with/infused with Earl Grey is a nod to fellow tea drinker and a THANK YOU for the gift of this INCREDIBLE book. #audiobook narrated by #AdjoaAndoh is 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Pouring Earl Grey tea into a tea cup with the book Island Queen in view

In short order, Dorothy “Dolly” Kirwan Thomas is a woman I’d love to meet. She is a seemingly indomitable force of a woman, but as she said herself, she is broken glass, with sharp & jadged edges, reshaped throughout the course of her life.

“Broken glass still sparkles when the light hits it. It might even look like diamonds or chandeliers’ jewels. It’s still ruined and in need of repair. Time will fix it, if you live free.”

Born into slavery, the “child” of her white father, master Kirwan, in the West Indies, Dorothy’s life has not been easy. I wanted to take some glass pieces to the half brother of Dorothy more than once, but Dorothy listened to her wise mother, who told her, “You make things right by living.”

Dolly LIVED. Understandably, if you’d lived through what Dolly had, giving up might seem the easy thing to do, the way to exist but not live. But no ma’am, Dolly proved to everyone—to the hateful half brother and others like him—but most importantly, to herself, she was a flame that could not be extinguished.

“I couldn’t be a wick for someone else’s candle. I was a flame. I had to remember that.”

Vanessa Riley has created a masterpiece in this book based on the true life of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas. In the author’s note, Riley says, “Dorothy Kirwan Thomas was strong, beautiful, and determined, but not superhuman.”

I would fail to summarize the many reasons you SHOULD read this book (get the audiobook too) but I can say this, I can’t give you ANY reason not to.

Go. Read this book. Send some good tea my way as a thank you if you feel so inclined.


Published by booksbythecup

Lover of good books and tea

4 thoughts on “Island Queen – Book Review

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