the book of night women

title: The Book of Night Women

author: Marlon James

genre: Fiction, slavery, rebellion

suggested by: Stephanie R.

dates read: Jan 26th-Jan 29th

review: 5 out of 5 stars

summary: Lilith is a slave on a sugar plantation in Jamaica in the late 1700’s.  As the daughter of a slave woman and the white overseer, her life starts out unlike the other slaves on the plantation, with a “mother” and “father” assigned to her as her real mother died in childbirth and her real father obviously wouldn’t have her in his home.  She does not go out into the fields or work in the house.  After she commits a crime in self defense she ends up in the care of Homer, the head house slave.  Homer has been plotting  a slave revolt with other women on the plantation and she sees Lilith as an important key in their plan.  Lilith is very headstrong and doesn’t see herself as part of the plan, trying to forge her own path in life.

personal thoughts: This was a very tough book to read, but also difficult to put down.  The cruelty towards the slaves was horrifying, made worse by the fact that there’s no doubt things like that happened all the time and still happen to this day.  James created real characters that made me ache for their suffering and rejoice in the all too small triumphs.  When I wasn’t reading this book I was thinking about it, thinking about the capacity for evil that people have and how inequality is so insidious and unthinkable.  A review on Amazon says, “James adds a new chapter to the history of human bondage in the Americas — ‘a story we may dare to think we already know’ (New York Times Book Review).”  I couldn’t agree more.  This story, rich in tragedy, pain, love, beauty, and so much more will stay with me for a long time.

favorite quotes:
“For all they funny talking and funny smell, Lilith did imagine the African back as always straight, the African leg powerful and the African eye big and wide.  But there they was, a man and a woman, and already they body twist into question mark like what Massa Humphrey write.” p. 313

“Be wicked if you wish and good if you plan, but stop trying to be both. . .” p. 338

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