It's Tuesday and this week I was thinking that I might like to read some books with a Caribbean setting, so while searching for something different, I came across these (2) books which really intrigued me. The covers are awesome as well. Have you read these?
Bruised Hibiscus; Elizabeth Nunez
(amazon website)......."Caribbean Gothic" aptly describes Nunez's third novel (after Beyond the Limbo Silence). The darkly lush story (based on a real-life crime) is rife with symbolism, ominous powers and fever-pitched tension between races and classes. In 1954, the mutilated body of a white female doctor washes ashore on Otahiti beach, Trinidad. When two local women--who as childhood friends bonded intensely after witnessing a young girl being attacked and molested behind a hibiscus bush--hear of the murder, they each decide to pilgrimage to a neighboring town to pray to Our Lady of Fatima. On the way, the women, Rosa and Zuela, recognize each other, and rekindle their friendship, nurturing a sisterhood that will change their lives. Rosa grew up neglected by her British, adulterous parents, and married Cedric, a tormented black school headmaster who lashes out cruelly at his faithful wife. Cedric taunts her with the idea that the murdered woman was a wife caught "in flagrante delicto" by her husband. Zuela's life has been equally harsh. At age 11, she was given away by her Venezuelan father to a merchant and opium addict, Ho Sang (or "Chinaman"), for whom she has borne 10 children in as many years. Treated badly by Chinaman, Zuela stands up to him only when she fears he will involve her sons in his illicit trade. The two women now lean on each other for strength to transform their lives and leave their husbands, but readers may believe that the true salvation in this book arises not from the hard-won peace they find but from the incantatory, authentic Trinidadian dialect with which Nunez deftly infuses the dark, devastating tale with spirit and heart.
The True History of Paradise; Margaret Cezair-Thompson
(amazon website)....It's 1981 and Jean Landing is about to flee her disintegrating homeland, Jamaica, but first, she must bury her sister. Lana, a pop singer in the early days of Reggae, has immolated herself in a moment of madness and must be buried immediately "because, as someone explains to Jean, burned bodies decompose quickly." The funeral takes place in the morning; that afternoon, Jean is on her way across the mountains to a rendezvous with a private plane that will take her to the States. Accompanied by her childhood friend, Paul, she drives across her island nation, noting the increasingly violent confrontations between political factions even as she retreats into memories of her own fractured past:
Ghosts stand on the foothills of this journey. She smells their woody ancestral breath in the land's familiar crests and undulations. She has heard them all her life, these obstinate spirits, desperate to speak, to revise the broken grammar of their exits. They speak to her, Jean Landing, born in that audient hour before daylight broke on the nation, born into the knowledge of nation and prenation, the old noises of barracks, slave quarters, and steerage mingling in her ears with the newest sounds of self-rule. On verandas, in kitchens, in the old talk, in her waking reveries and anxious dreams, she has heard their stories.From her own mother, the light-skinned, "selfish and adamant" Monica, sister Lana, and deceased father, the black nationalist Roy Landing, to her white ancestor Rebecca Crawford, they are all here, sometimes in Jean's memory, other times telling their stories in their own voices. It's a complicated weave of story lines and voices, but Margaret Cezair-Thompson carries it off with aplomb. The True History of Paradise explores both the political and the personal as Jean's childhood remembrances play out against the war-torn landscape of Jamaica. Near the end of the novel Jean reflects, "To leave one's country. It is not a complete sentence, a complete anything. Its infinitive possibilities leap from loss to promise and back again from promise to loss." This promising first novel makes those leaps with nary a stumble.