Today is a day of staying in bed surrounded by books and cups of tea and it feels good.
I was first drawn to this book by the beautiful cover. The summary clued me to the elements that I find intriguing and appealing in fiction; the bending of time and spirits and across multiple generations. The novel opened in 1749 off the coast of Sierra Leone and closes in 1995 in New York. The opening line was “She was a fierce woman”, referring to a blue-black Woman captured for enslavement. The coupling of the word fierce to describe a Black Woman set an extremely high expectation of this story. The opening scene involves her fighting against being raped by the ship captain who she sees as some creature…stripped necked but focused she awaits the moment of attack and lunges into his throat attempting to sever his jugular vein…okay, from here I was hooked…the jugular vein?! Didn’t see that coming and thought it brilliant! No whacking him to death with a candle stick holder or even clawing him bloody with her fingernails or kicking him away…but one decisive chance at escaping the clutches of this animal and she went for the jugular!
From this point of climax in the very beginning I was conscious of the unidentified narrator. I was conscious of being told a story of reading the book. With novels and movies I like the impact of being so caught up in the movie that I feel like I’m actually in the environment of the characters as a minor one. It wasn’t until a little over half way through the 248 pages that this happened for me. It was in the life of the 5th generation from the opening protagonist, Vyda Rose, a prostitute in business for herself because she was aware of being good at what she did…it wasn’t until one of her regular customers filled her with something she didn’t even know she needed that she goes in search of him, pregnant with his child and ends up in New York from North Carolina.
The title of the book is taken from the child of the unnamed woman who opens the story. The succeeding stories of women attempt to identify the pain of their own existence and their attempts at reconciling the anguish and confusion they have inherited from their fore-mothers.
So far this is the author’s first and only novel. Based on this book I would place forthcoming novels by her on my list.