Blanche Among the Talented Tenth

Barbara Neely, Author
Barbara Neely, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-312-11248-6
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
In her second novel, Neely addresses the issue of color-based bigotry within the black community. As a child, Blanche White was taunted by her black classmates as ``Tar Baby,'' and so she sets out less than enthusiastically for Amber Cove, a posh Maine resort filled with light-skinned blacks. The trip will get her out of Boston, however (``the most racist city in which she'd ever lived''), and give her a chance to see if her niece and nephew, who are spending the summer there, are picking up ``hincty ideas'' from what her friend Ardell calls ``Caucasian-ettes.'' Despite an initially frosty reception at Amber Cove Inn, Blanche quickly makes friends with Mattie Harris, an ``arrogant old girl''; catches the eye of Robert Stuart, a handsome pharmacist from the nearby town; and picks up the latest news--that Faith Brown, who routinely dug up and revealed dirt on others, was accidentally electrocuted while bathing. When a cove resident commits suicide, leaving behind a note implicating himself in Faith's death, Mattie decides that she and Blanche must get to the bottom of things. Blanche continues to appeal in her so-what-if-I've-got-an-attitude way, but while her first outing, Blanche on the Lam , was a mystery with a bit of message, this one is a message with a bit of mystery. (Sept.)
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