My synopsis: This is the story of Easter Bartlett. Her life started in Waycross, Georgia, where her sister survived a rape and her mother died of a broken heart when she discovered her husband's affair. The lynching of a friend that she witnessed is what drove her out of the south and eventually to Harlem.
This was the Harlem of the 1920's and 1930's. A time now referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. Easter was one of the few black people who could read and write and she spent much of her time writing stories. This is a work of fiction but there are many historical people written into the story - Marcus Garvey, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen that gives the book a very believable thread.
We learn much about Easter, that she married, how she became a widow, how she first got published in The Crisis under the byline E.V. Gibbs. At this time Easter had a benefactor by the name of Meredith Tomas, a white woman. Meredith was a wealthy widow in love with an old female friend of Easter's named Rain. Rain and Easter both lived with Meredith and enjoyed the good life - for awhile. Meredith began to do great amounts of what sounded like it could have been opium. She began to behave rather strangely, going through her servants and friends belongings when they were not home, painting all the windows in her Penthouse black and even stopped receiving callers.
She stumbles upon a manuscript of a novel that Easter is working on that is marvelous. She becomes jealous that Easter is not sharing this work with her as she shares all of her other writings with Meredith so that Meredith can help her "polish" them. This novel does not need that polish. What happens next is tragic, appalling and I wanted to jump up and tell the people involved to not be so stupid! But it is this event that shapes the rest of Easter's life and eventually comes to fruition back in Waycross, Georgia.
My thoughts: When I finally had the opportunity to pick up this novel I devoured it. I carried it around with me for a day and a half until I was finally able to finish it. Bernice McFadden is a wonderful story teller and even though the story takes place from Georgia to Chicago to Harlem it just flows. The people and events that really happened are woven seamlessly with Easter's life and they bring the story to life. The character of Rain is very colorful and I never really did decide whether I liked her and whether or not she was good for Easter. I knew that I did not like Meredith and found her selfish from the beginning. Easter I found to be brave, steadfast, always moving forward to the next place, the next "time" in her life - always accepting of what life had to offer her or not offer her. My words cannot do justice to the struggle that you could feel in this story. I highly recommend this novel.
~I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my review.~
The author has generously offered two autographed copies of her book to two of my readers! To enter - just leave me a relevant comment with your email address.
Additional entries - Follow me on Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Tweet or blog the giveaway - or follow Bernice McFadden's blog or follow her on twitter. Each entry must have it's own comment to get full credit. This giveaway will end May 15 at 11:59PM CST.
Publisher/Publication Date: Akashic Books, May 1, 2010