MY LOVE, MY LOVE: or The Peasant Girl

Rosa Guy, Author . Coffee House $11.95 (168p) ISBN 1-566-89-131-0

Guy (Bird at My Window) reimagines Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Little Mermaid, setting it on an island in the Antilles and turning it into a fable of racial injustice. Young, innocent Désirée Dieu-Donné, a dark-skinned peasant, comes across a car wreck while wandering alone in the jungle. The victim of the crash turns out to be Daniel Beauxhomme, the handsome son of wealthy light-skinned urban entrepreneur Gabriel Beauxhomme. No sooner does Désirée lovingly nurse Daniel back to health than his family whisks him back to his pampered former life. Désirée, heartsick, tracks Daniel down at his mansion. She makes her way past vicious guards to Daniel, who remembers her. They have a brief, intense affair, ended abruptly when the young man's haughty fiancée returns from a vacation and throws Désirée out of the house. The bitter tale of prejudice is cathartic, if not particularly nuanced. Guy's evocative, lyrical prose makes the appearance of fantastical elements—such as Death personified with a glowing cigar clenched between his teeth—feel natural. Less convincing are the emotions portrayed: Daniel speaks of Désirée as "a girl who has given me hope," and after Désirée wins Daniel's approval, we read that her "dreams were now a reality." These recycled turns of phrase mar the novel, which in spite of Guy's adroit storytelling is disappointingly slight. (Oct.)

Forecast:Originally published in 1991, Guy's novel was the basis for the popular 1990 Broadway musical Once on This Island, which is still frequently performed. Tie-in sales are a possibility, but may be limited since the novel and the musical have different titles.

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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