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The Wine of Astonishment

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  388 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
This is an energetic, very unusual, above all, enlightening novel;the author's best yet.

- The Financial Times

A powerful and moving chronicle of the different ways in which members of a small Trinidadian community, Bonasse, hold on to their identity as they find themselves caught up in change and corruption. Bolo is a champion stick fighter, tall, good looking, and the fas

Paperback, 146 pages
Published December 17th 1986 by Heinemann Educational Books (first published 1982)
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The Wine of Astonishment by Earl LovelaceTithe of Blood by Esther SladeAyla's Paradise by Esther SladeThe House of Six Doors by Patricia SelbertA Decent Woman by Eleanor Parker Sapia
Compact Caribbean
1st out of 9 books — 11 voters
A Season in Rihata by Maryse CondéHigh Tide of Intrigue by Michael AnthonyAunt Jen by Paulette RamsayThe Gaulin and the Dove by Lewis HenryChildren of the Sea by David Franklyn
Caribbean Writers Series
18th out of 30 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 870)
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Dec 02, 2013 Beverly rated it it was amazing
My thoughts:

• I was pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoyed this book. It has been some time since I read a “Caribbean Classic” and I wondered how I missed this book as during the 80s and early 90s I was reading most of the books that were part of the Heinemann Caribbean Writers Series.
• This book was 146 pages and the author did a impressive job of telling the story of a small community and the challenges they faced in a recent post-colonial world, the “invasion” of American soldiers and how
Lee Tackett
Apr 04, 2012 Lee Tackett rated it it was amazing
I was very pleased that I chose this book as my independent novel. The Wine of Astonishment brings the reader into close contact with different complicated characters to the point where the reader gains a better understanding of ethnic struggle and ethnic culture. Lovelace's use of ethnic dialogue, which in other works can be difficult to read, not only flowed exceptionally well, but brought an added level of authenticity to the work. Most importantly, Lovelace developed three particularly stron ...more
Sep 17, 2007 Jb rated it it was amazing
at this point, lovelace has refined his craft. more succinct and subtle than the dragon can't dance, the wine of astonishment is an outstanding portrayal of the socio-political struggles of post-colonial culture. once again, humanity pervades lovelace's politics. this is a truly beautiful novel.
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
May 30, 2008 Miss Karen Jean Martinson rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. One of the few books I've read where the main characters are poor, uneducated, and oppressed and yet granted a dignity and awareness by the author that is neither primitivizing nor patronizing.
Dec 28, 2015 Eugenie rated it really liked it
Great writing - very poetic - a truly enjoyable read. However, for me the story-line could have been stronger, hence only 4 stars.
Roger DeBlanck
Aug 10, 2015 Roger DeBlanck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
With the Second World War raging on, “the people” of the village of Bonasse in Trinidad are under siege. The government has banned the Spiritual Baptist Church from practicing their cultural way of worship. Bee is the preacher of the church and one of the sage members of his community. He advocates finding a civil means to lead the people through the crisis. He believes they need a man in the Legislature to speak for them and their plight. Bee cautions, however, that to confront the injustice of ...more
Oct 08, 2008 Hotavio rated it liked it
Recommended to Hotavio by: college course
Shelves: books-on-america
A poignant novel about choices a people must take in order to exercise their freedoms. This novel, set in Trinidad, is metaphorically pertinent to all oppressed peoples. The black Trinidadians reach the threshold when the Brits and Americans not only force European religious practices on them, inject western pop culture into the island, and keep Trinidadians into the polictical fold, but then the people find that one by one their culture is dissolving as its members are swooned over by promises ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Alana rated it it was amazing
Believe it or not, this was my first Lovelace novel!! I loved it and I just could not separate myself from the book. The entire narrative felt like a monologue and I especially loved that it was set in Trinidad, written in our language, by one of our people and above all, a very strong novel. I will be reading more of his books in the near future and investing in having what belongs to us on my bookshelf. Yes, this has been long overdue.
Oct 19, 2014 Lina rated it it was amazing
Growing up I attended Catholic School and so I was used to a quiet, reverent style or worship, but in my teens I attended a Baptist church with my cousins and I was taken aback by the style of worship. In reading this book I found myself looking back to my reaction and remembered see the congregation as an “Other.” The falling, speaking in tongues and concept of catching the spirit was foreign, strange and made me long for the comforts of the Catholic Church that I didn’t even religiously affili ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Karina added it
This book was required reading for Literature at my High School. It was the first Lovelace book I'd read, and it got me hooked on Lovelace as an author. It is quite distinctly Trinidadian, and gives a very rich social, historical and cultural perspective. There is tragedy, comedy and triumph in this book! I highly recommend it!
Sep 13, 2012 Ruth rated it it was amazing
Lovelace's novels are some of the BEST postcolonial stories out there. And they make me love Trinidad & Tobago, a country I have seldom paid attention to in the past, though I have a friend from there. This novel is a small (short) jewel.
Debbie Boucher
Apr 27, 2013 Debbie Boucher rated it really liked it
This is the second book I've read by Earl Lovelace. I will hear him speak tomorrow at the Bocas Literary Festival here in Port of Spain. I am impressed at how he captures the experience of being of African descent in Trinidad, at his attempt to decipher for the reader the enigma of it. The book begins in the early part of the last century in a small community where there is little work apart from working for a large estate picking coconuts. The community is bound together by the Spiritual Baptis ...more
Daniel Paul
The book is about Eva and Bee Dorcas, members of the Spiritual Baptist Church. It is about their experiences of being persecuted for their religious affiliation and the faith that they have in Ivan Morton to change their situation. The character Bolo is also at the forefront of this story because he embodies the result of not being able to be a man in a society that does not view being Black as valuable.

Chapter 1:
The readers are introduced to the narrator, Eva, and her husband Bee, along with th
Karen Davis
Aug 02, 2015 Karen Davis rated it really liked it
I used this for years in Caribbean Humanities course--the characters & issues in this tale, set in a Trinidadian village, could be easily linked to expository writing, documentary film, and lectures. The story serves as a kind of shorthand for "Caribbean Topics 101," and the drama itself engaged the students.
Nov 06, 2014 Kaneisha rated it really liked it
this book out your mind on the things the shouter Baptiste when through for so long it was a novel that had me on my toes trying to find out when would Eva, Bolo and Eva`s husband would final get their freedom to worship and when the would <3 ...more
Jul 14, 2016 Arshaad rated it it was amazing
A compelling read and with today's somewhat growing intolerance toward various faiths, it gives hope that once one holds on to their beliefs with sincerity and passion, any obstacle can be overcome.
Yemi Elegunde
Apr 11, 2015 Yemi Elegunde rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book looking back at the changes in the Caribbean during the war and before independence. I found it quite an nsightful story and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jessica Day
Sep 16, 2015 Jessica Day rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovelace creates characters with depth that you care about. I enjoyed this book and will definitely read more from the author.
Dec 14, 2008 Preeta rated it really liked it
Amazing use of dialect as poetry -- I would recommend this for anyone interested in global Englishes. The narrator's voice -- arresting, heartbreaking, funny -- proves that local versions of English can convey social nuances that standard English cannot when it comes from outside the culture in question. My only quibble is that sometimes, particularly when trying to evoke high drama, the language/pace got a tiny bit repetitive. But I'd give this four and a half stars if I could, and can't wait t ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Samantha rated it it was amazing
I found Eva's narration interesting.
Meagan Tablada
Jan 22, 2014 Meagan Tablada rated it it was amazing
it was great
Shivanee Ramlochan
Sep 12, 2011 Shivanee Ramlochan rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2002
The narrative of this book resembles nothing so much as it does a song, threaded to equal notes of misery and upliftment, a song that persists even when confronted with the most vile persecution.
Brian Watson
Aug 29, 2007 Brian Watson rated it it was amazing
Read this for a freshman English class and have since re-read it about ten times. Great story with tons of imagery and allusion.
Kaydeen Henry
i think tha wine of astonishment is based on reality thing in jamaica.the ending and beginning of slavery
Cheryl S.
Jul 10, 2008 Cheryl S. rated it liked it
Shelves: cultural-info, 2008
Heart wrenching account of religious persecution.
David Dacosta
Dec 09, 2012 David Dacosta rated it it was amazing
A bonified Caribbean classic
Cameron E.
Feb 24, 2016 Cameron E. rated it really liked it
pretty good
Mar 20, 2012 Kathy rated it liked it
Oct 04, 2011 Monique rated it it was amazing
its gr8
Sep 25, 2011 Jasmine rated it it was ok
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Novelist, playwright and short-story writer Earl Lovelace was born in Toco, Trinidad in 1935 and grew up in Tobago. He worked for the Trinidad Guardian, then for the Department of Forestry and later as an agricultural assistant for the Department of Agriculture, gaining an intimate knowledge of rural Trinidad that has informed much of his fiction.

He studied in the United States at Howard Universit
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