No Tears for Massa's Day

Michael Humfrey, Author John Murray Publishers $19.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7195-4442-2
Two hundred years pass in the course of this expertly documented, lovingly described novel about the tiny Caribbean island of Saint Cecilia. Born in Grenada, an island identical to the one invented here, the author ( A Shadow in the Weave ) is an authority on marine life, an expertise that creates pleasant byways along the novel's straight historical path. It's a rags-to-riches tale, at whose heart is the struggle of black natives to reclaim their land from the white overlords. Exiled from Barbados, his possessions snatched, Robert Ledyard arrives in Saint Cecilia in 1799, is granted a tract of salt-marsh, and scrabbles a precarious living for his wife and two sons. The older boy stumbles over a cache of coins, buried after the shipwreck of a Spanish galleon, and from these grows the family fortune. Charmless and brutally racist, each succeeding Ledyard heir husbands his wealth and power until David Ledyard, who seems not to notice the color of his friends, is sent to Oxford to complete his education and there marries a black woman. Polemic though this may be, and pat though its conclusion, the richness of background detail holds the reader's interest, and the warmth of the telling invites sympathy. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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