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Victoire : my mother's mother
Maryse Conde
Adult Fiction CONDE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Turning her historical fiction chops on her own family, novelist Conde (Story of the Cannibal Woman) looks at her grandmother Victoire's hard life in Guadeloupe at the turn of the 19th century, "a prisoner of her illiteracy, her illegitimacy, her gender" who nevertheless gave Conde's mother a life among the educated black bourgeoisie. Impregnated at 16 by a well-respected womanizer twice her age, Victoire was treated like a criminal, beaten by her father and run off from her home. After fleeing her shame, Victoire is taken on as a servant by a white Creole family, where she spent most of her life; there, her talent for cooking brings her the attention, admiration and business of prominent white Creoles. Conde proves just as impressive in her own medium: a tall man is "long as a day without bread"; the sea on a hot day shines "like a gold bar being smelted." Deceptively slim, Conde's 15th title is a savory, complex mix of Caribbean culture, black history and the lives of ordinary women. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In this eponymous work, Guadeloupean-born novelist Conde offers a fictionalized account of her grandmother Victoire's life. The light-skinned daughter of a "petroleum blue Negro," Victoire gives birth to a black daughter, Jeanne (Conde's mother), who eventually aspires to join the rich, black upper class. Jeanne detests Victoire's status as the chef for a white Creole family, the Walbergs, and especially Victoire's singular friendship with Anne-Marie Walberg and long-term romance with Anne-Marie's husband, Boniface. Though a personal history, this novel illuminates important class and racial issues at the turn of the 20th century in the French Antilles and in fact reads like nonfiction. Also, via Conde's exceptional prose, it divulges the strong love between a mother and daughter who failed to communicate. VERDICT While Conde has accomplished a remarkable feat in recovering so much about her grandmother's life, she has written stronger historical novels, including Desirada, awarded the prestigious Prix Carbet de la Caraibe for the best book by a Caribbean author. For Conde fans and readers of literary and international fiction.-Faye A. Chadwell, Oregon State Univ. Lib., Corvallis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Victorie
Single mother
Was pregant at 16 by a well-respected womanizer who was twice her age; beaten by her father; ran away from her home and her shame; taken in by a white Creole family; had a talent for cooking.

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