Monday, 6 October 2014

Martha's Vineyard : Book 4

author Dorothy West
"The Wedding"
Dorothy West
(1907 - 1998)
Dorothy was the last living member of the Harlem Renaissance.
She wrote her first story at 7 and continued writing short stories and publishing magazines. Her work is ground-breaking in her portrayal of African Americans.  She was one of the first black women to have her works published.
At 85, she finished her second novel "The Wedding".  It was made into a 2-part miniseries by Oprah Winfrey.
Dorothy dedicated her book to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, her editor, who died before the book was published.

This is a small but powerful book.  The story takes place in two days, but there are many back-stories of ancestors.
"The Wedding" is about to take place on Martha's Vineyard in the 1950's, where there really was a community of wealthy blacks in an area called "The Oval". The theme is very obviously bigotry- colour and social standing. "The right colour was preferable, but not as mandatory as the right class." But the book begins with a quote about love:
I Corinthians 13: 4-7. "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.... It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things".
The marriages in the story are never based on love, but on what is 'needed' in a partner.
The writing is amazing!  Some sentences are so full of metaphors that it takes a few minutes to figure out what is being said.
The characters are compelling and strongly developed.  The message is strong!
About Shelby's marriage:  "That union in the time of generation, would return to its origination, the colored blood drained out, degree by degree, until none was left, either known or remembered."
About the future generation:
"I wanted to fight the whole white race for her but she must do it herself.  It's a private and internal struggle.  And to win she will have to fight back without bitterness, not replacing her hurt with hate but letting hurt enrich her experience."
Powerful novel!

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