[[ books ]] Cane River Author Lalita Tademy – Selindameditasyon.com
Cane River is a wonderful novel, which I highly recommend I learned a lot about the slave plantation small farmer experience of Creole Louisiana Especially interesting are the details about the gens de couleur libre and the long line of interracial unions both forced and chosen among Tademy s ancestors An important thread that runs from beginning to end in Cane River is the impact of skin color biases within the black community, and Tademy s family specifically.San Francisco Bay Area native Lalita Tademy has a unique story to tell about her family lineage, and I m glad she took the time to research and write this novel She convincingly portrays strong, interesting, complex women starting with her great great great grandmother Suzette, whose nine year old fictionalized character launches the novel in 1834 Lalita Tademy brings a cast of memorable characters to life, with a great literary flair.I selected this novel for the February 2009 meeting of my library based Mostly Literary Fiction Book Discussion Group Book group participants described the book as a page turner, and recounted many passages that moved them to tears Lalita Tademy visited the Hayward Public Library for a special event on March 11, 2009, as part of our NEA sponsored Big Read of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J Gaines a novel set in Cajun Louisiana in the late 1940s It was a memorable opportunity to meet Tademy and hear details about her research and writing I also recommend her second novel, Red River, which explores again in fictional form her father s ancestors, and the devastating Colfax, Louisiana, Massacre of 150 black freedmen in 1873. I was a little cautious entering this book First off, it s an Oprah book choice and those are generally a bit on the depressing side Secondly, what I knew of the plot of the book was that it was about a family of women slaves during the Civil War era.which could be depresing, graphic, etc I was pleasantly surprised by this book Granted, some of the situations that happen to the family of women in the book are sad, and make me frustrated that people were ever treated that way, the overall tone of the book, for me, was one of hope These women hoped for a better future for their children They perservered through all of the hard times with hope in their hearts, along with some other well deserved emotions Another pleasant surprise with this book is that it is not graphic there were plenty of times when some white master came to the slave women and the author could have let these situations be pretty awful but she didn t It was a relief to not have to cringe when I was reading. What a gorgeous novel The key thing is, is that this novel was based on Lalita Tademy s own family history She calls it fiction, though, because she had to elaborate and add rich detail to the simple stories she had been told of her grandmothers before her.What shocked me most about this novel was that it was Tademy s first Her writing seems to reflect years and years of writing before her, it flows so well and the language is so rich You can t criticize her characters, because they are real, even so she added layers on to them that just increased their likeability.It was funny, because I didn t think I was going to like the fact that the book followed every generation closely I thought I would bond with Suzette and feel slight resentment when her daughter and granddaughters story came up, but I didn t Somehow I loved it I loved it because the mothers and grandmothers weren t shoved to the side when the story switched focus, which is further reflection on how Tademy s family thinks of their elders, especially their grandmother s.This book is a surprisingly enjoyable novel, and I d say if the story doesn t sound like something you would want to read, give it a try anyway I really don t need to say too much about this novel because it doesn t need much Everything about it is great, and really, that s all I need to say. If you are looking for historical fiction that focuses on the lives and struggles of African American women, I highly recommend picking up Cane River Lalita Tademy has turned her family story into a fictionalized account of three generations of women who have each faced physical and emotional trauma with strength, dedication to family, and a burning need to move their families forward When faced with no choice but to physically submit themselves to the men who hold the power of life and death over them, each woman ultimately does what she feels is best for the resulting children The means by which the family is moved forward is by bleaching the line through the generations This process isn t truly by choice, but these strong women use whatever advantages that they can grasp for their children Suzette and Philomene never actually have a choice in who the father of their children will be, but their perseverance, resourcefulness, and pure grit is impressive Having modern sensibilities, it is upsetting to know that the skin color helped to define the hopes of a mother for her children Yet, women with no power over their own bodies and futures had to maneuver and manipulate advancement as best they could It was Emily s story, the last generation delved into in Cane River, that was the most heartbreaking for me Emily had a taste of love, even though it was a tarnished one Emily s desire to just be without being harassed for simply existing, and being audacious enough to attract and acquire love from a white man, was what made her an even larger target for savage mistreatment Tademy actually had me feeling sorry for a man who couldn t defend a family that he knew would never be accepted Even though I felt compassion for Joseph, his arrogance and sense of entitlement is what led to his downfall and eventually cost him everything Both Emily and Joseph were naive in their belief that they could be left alone to live as they wished, but especially Joseph As a white male living in their community after the Civil War, he should have know that he could not be a successful businessman and expect others not to balk at the idea of him having a woman with even a trace of black blood The ending of the book had me upset knowing that after all that Emily had endured and survived, society still made sure that she knew her place However, toward the end there is a bit of joy given to me via the choice of Emily s son T.O to break the line by his choice of a wife It was a step that not only set him apart as a man who thinks for himself, but also a step to break the cycle that T.O saw as destroying his own sense of self worth Ya ll.There is so much to experience in Cane River I generally haven t had the best of luck with Oprah Book Club picks, however Cane River was a home run for me and is going on my favorite reads list I am so glad that I grabbed this one when I saw it in my local Goodwill for only a dollar Spending a dollar and discovering a new favorite read is about as good as it gets Reading this one makes me wish that I belonged to an organized book club so that I could discuss all of the issues and feelings that Tademy evoked This was a hard review to rein in It would be so easy to write a review on each woman featured Cane River is a very well paced read that will hit you in all of the feels and provides food for thought long after you close the cover I am now going to have to get a copy of Red River, which focuses on the Tademy side of the family.You can find me at Monlatable Book Reviews Twitter MonlatReaderInstagram readermonicaFacebook Monica Reeds Goodreads Group The Black Bookcase Cane River is an odd mix of fiction and non fiction, and I m not sure it entirely works It feels like trying to find the balance between the two constrains the narrative in ways that either one by itself would not As non fiction, it is limited by the availability of sources, and it truly seems like there is much that has to be speculative As fiction, it is equally limited by the sources the author is hemmed in by what she does know, and that structure seems binding.Note The rest of this review has been withheld due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook A work of historical fiction focusing on the lives of 4 generations of women in Creole Louisiana, from the slave woman matriarch brought to Cane River from Virginia in 1820 to the early 20th century, with a brief epilogue in 1936 All but the first generation had children by white fathers one by force, one by a coldly calculated relationship intended to benefit the children, one by a long term loving relationship hampered by ostracism legal constraints The special challenge of these mixed race relationships is along with the resources of family strength the main focus of the book Moderately engaging somewhat didactic, with serviceable but not inspiring prose, it s worthwhile reading but not worthy of the enthusiastic recommendation it got from Oprah, Darlene, my Mom. Really not good Which I knew by around page 5 But I read all 500 pages to the end, mostly because my next set of books from hadn t arrived yet Interesting story and concept, but the writing is just stinky It s definitely got the vibe of I quit my job at Sun to write a fiction book The dialogue is really bad and the characters are just poorly developed even though they re real people. I come from two long lines of strong women They survived the hard life of settling in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, the pain and loss of childbirth, disease, economic hardship, the Depression, the helplessness of dealing with alcoholism and many other tragedies and difficulties of life But none of them, to my knowledge, had to suffer the indignities of slavery Lalita Tademy s book, Cane River, tells in fictional form the stories of four generations of the women in her family.The story, focusing on the women that raised children, mostly by white men, in rural Louisiana during the years before the Civil War and into the 1930s, brings home the true tragedies of slavery The first woman of the family to come to Cane River was Elizabeth, torn from her two children in Virginia and shipped South, still a slave with no control over her fate or the fates of her children Generation after generation struggle with the truth of being of dark skin in the South, as her daughters and granddaughters bear children to white plantation owners against their will, finally using the desires of these white men against them to better the lives of their children.The great tragedy for me in this book was that these wonderful women, each beautiful and strong, was unable to realize the glory of their color Being dark was a burden, and lightening the skin of the next generation became an unacknowledged goal for Suzette, Philomene and Emily as they fought for security in white society for their children Being able to pass as white made life easier, but the resentment that built up in the community against the white men who lived openly and acknowledged their children by these black women shattered lives Tademy s search for her heritage began in a resentment against the attitudes of the earlier generation against dark skin What she discovered was that each generation dealt with prejudice and hardship in the only way they knew, and her respect for these women and their difficult choices becomes a wonderful story of their lives.Although this is fiction, there is a lot of truth in this portrayal The story doesn t end with a happy ever after , and it sometimes seems to me that the struggle is still as hard as ever It s long past time that we learned lessons from our tragic history. I should divulge that I formerly lived along Cane River the in town part and was given a free copy by our local National Park unit at a public symposium I started the book that night at bedtime, thinking I d read for an hour or so, per usual Well I was up until well after 4 00 a.m finishing this thing When I showed up slightly bleary eyed for class the next day, one of our observant grad students thanks, Melissa asked whether I d been up all night finishing the Book of Crack as she called it So true you just couldn t put it down It was a wonderful story kind of an Alex Hailey s Roots set along the region surrounding Cane River in northwest Louisiana roughly spanning Natchitoches to Cloutierville For anyone not from the region as with Mom and mother in law who both received and loved their copies , it s a great introduction to a region and to the complexities of Louisiana s creole communities And the fact that the author wrote the book as something of a voyage of discovery of her own family roots, just makes it that much bittersweet after you become so invested in characters from whom she is actually descended This is a beautiful book about a beautiful and complicated place. A New York Times bestseller and Oprah s Book Club Pick the unique and deeply moving saga of four generations of African American women whose journey from slavery to freedom begins on a Creole plantation in Louisiana.Beginning with her great great great great grandmother, a slave owned by a Creole family, Lalita Tademy chronicles four generations of strong, determined black women as they battle injustice to unite their family and forge success on their own terms They are women whose lives begin in slavery, who weather the Civil War, and who grapple with contradictions of emancipation, Jim Crow, and the pre Civil Rights South As she peels back layers of racial and cultural attitudes, Tademy paints a remarkable picture of rural Louisiana and the resilient spirit of one unforgettable family.There is Elisabeth, who bears both a proud legacy and the yoke of bondage her youngest daughter, Suzette, who is the first to discover the promise and heartbreak of freedom Suzette s strong willed daughter Philomene, who uses a determination born of tragedy to reunite her family and gain unheard of economic independence and Emily, Philomene s spirited daughter, who fights to secure her children s just due and preserve their dignity and future.Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Cane River presents a slice of American history never before seen in such piercing and personal detail.