Fire in the Canes-C

Glenville Lovell, Author, Lovell Glenville, Author Soho Press $22 (272p) ISBN 978-1-56947-044-2
Restless spirits of slaughtered slaves are as vibrant as any human character in this notable debut. In 1894, after the abolition of slavery, a tiny community on an island reminiscent of the author's native Barbados is still dominated by the local plantation and its cane fields. The return to this community, after a year's absence, of the exotic Peata and her teenage daughter, Midra, inspires a chain of events that alters the uneasy relationships between the landowners and their tenant workers. Before their disappearance, both women had been drawn to Prince Johnson, an itinerant seaman who spurned Peata's advances and seduced Midra, impregnating her; Johnson's body was found just before the two women left. Back in town, the women are initially mistrusted by the locals, yet Brandon Fields, an apprentice blacksmith, is drawn to Midra and her son, Hartseed, eventually marrying her. Hartseed is seven when he meets another of Johnson's children, a half-sister with whom he explores a remote cave in which the pair discover a mysterious mask. The mask releases its secrets selectively: wearing it, the children envision scenes from their family's past and decipher the secrets of their heritage. The mask also leads to the resolution of the rampant and bizarre destruction of the cane fields that has ravaged the plantation. Absorbing tales of other tenants fold not entirely smoothly into the otherwise richly descriptive narrative. Though the novel suffers slightly from harsh, choppy dialogue, it promises a bright literary future for the author. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 258 pages - 978-0-425-16040-4
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