25 Dec 2009 – gift from fellow LibraryThing Viragoite Belva

A short novel, published in 1995 by an author I associated with an earlier era, this is a fascinating and involving exposition of history, race and class though 19th and 20th century America.  Opening in a community of the black bourgeousie in 1950s Martha’s Vineyard, we are soon tracing back the lineages of the main family through black and white, lower and upper classes, back to freed slaves and poverty-stricken workers.  Women are raised to prize their light colour, then castigated if they choose a black or a white husband.  Innocent and beautifully-drawn children suffer the expectations and assumptions of their elders, to often tragic effect.

Both meditative and full of action and character, this is an important book that can teach us all something, even if we think we already know about the histories and issues involved.