I took this book with me to Barbados in February but was too distracted by the blue skies, blue sea, and fine white sand to even open it. So I took it with me this past week to Jamaica. This time, I had a four hour layover which was incentive enough to start the read. Once I did, I had to keep going to get to what the big secret was. I finished it up under a burning sun by the rocky beach, mango daiquiri in hand and was left with such a warm and happy feeling. Now, now, I’m pretty sure the daiquiri had nothing to do with that. But I now know that it would have been a good read for Barbados as well had I been in the reading mood then.
This acclaimed debut novel is set in the 1960s segregated South, specifically Revere, Mississippi. It takes a candid look at the emotions and sensibilities on both sides of racial desegregation at a time when the inevitable was to happen. Powerful rich white folks, poor black folks, rich black folks, resentful poor white folks all drawn up together keeping to themselves yet so intertwined. Prejudice all around. I felt that the author’s portrayal gave a real feel to the contradictions and complexities of race relations in the South at that point in history.
The novel also reads like a mystery; my favourite genre. Did Billy Ray die from an accidental gun shot or was he killed? If so, whodunnit? What haunts Dr. Connelly and why? Why does his wife’s relationship with his father seem closer than his to her? Why doesn’t Dr. Jackson, the single black physician in town, not get involved in the fight for integration and what is he hiding from his wife? Is Madame Melba black or white…and actually why should that matter?
Perfect book for an easy and lazy read…preferably out in the sun, chilling in a hammock, you get my drift.