Friday, November 6, 2009

Two female writers this month, a couple of generations apart and with very different styles. This should give us plenty to discuss.

'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith is, according to the blurb on the back cover, ' .. is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing - among other things, with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-r
ead of a book.'

According to The Age '.. it takes literary tradition and moves it one notch along. It's a wise witty, wonderful book. Lie back and surrender to it.'

'Wide Sargasso Sea' by Jean Rhys. Here is one review:
Great novels should subvert certain traditions and conventions and Wide Sargasso Sea certainly does that. It provides the voice of 'the other', the unknowable mad wife, Bertha in Jane Eyre. Rhys' response to Jane Eyre is to provide us with a haunting, unnerving account of Antoinette, Bertha's real name. It has no chapter division and moves from one narrative voice to another without warning. This supports the overall theme of displacement and dreams. The issues of race and gender are accurately portrayed as more complex than black and white, male and female. Slavery and freedom are highlighted not just in the emancipation act but also in asking us who are now the real slaves, the former slave owners. Much of the character description is given through Antoinette's stream of consciousness and dialogue which must have been a shock to its English audience in the sixties when people were not that well-travelled. Overall, from its opening page providing hints of a dark past and a possibly thwarted future to its Thelma and Louise like ending this book holds us in suspense and makes us rethink assumptions held by many to this day.

Happy reading!