Showing posts from November, 2014

Book Review: River, Cross My Heart, by Breena Clarke

River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of the drowning of little Clara and the tragic event's impact on her family and the Black community in Georgetown, Washington, DC early in the 20th Century.
The book has a dream-like quality, captured by the author's writing style of small glimpses into the past as the present unfolds. Johnnie Mae is the main character, the older sister of Clara. Johnnie Mae is present when Clara drowns, escaping into her release of swimming. She is unable to save her little "Rat" and carries this burden throughout the story. The descriptions of the many denizens of Georgetown are so well-written, you can almost imagine them, especially the herb woman who lives behind Johnnie Mae's aunt's house and who helps the family on a few occasions, both with her herbal medicines and her wisdom. One of the main focuses of the book is Johnnie Mae's overwhelming desire to swim in the white people's po…

Book Review: Property, by Valerie Martin

Property: A Novel by Valerie Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Property is narrated by Manon, a wealthy plantation owner's wife. She is living with her husband, for whom she bears nothing but hatred and contempt, and the slaves on the place, including her husband's mistress, Sarah. Sarah was brought to the plantation and Manon's life as a gift from Manon's aunt, on the occasion of her marriage, because her uncle was much too interested in this beautiful light-skinned woman. Sarah has borne two children to Manon's husband, one a wild (view spoiler)[deaf (hide spoiler)] child called Walter, who inspires disgust in Manon.
Manon isn't a nice woman, yet one sympathizes with her because she is as much a slave in her marriage as the people who work on the plantation. She has no say at all in the way the place is run, and can only watch helplessly as her husband drains the coffers, mistreats the slaves and sleeps with Sarah. Manon takes a perverse pleasure in keeping Sara…