On the island of Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s there exists a proud, insular, nearly unassailable community known as the Oval, made up of the best and brightest of New York's and Boston's black bourgeoisie. Dr. Clark Coles and his wife Corinne, pillars of this community, are mortified that their youngest daughter Shelby is set on marrying Meade Wyler, a white jazz musicia...more
Dorothy West's life stretched across nearly the entire 20th century (1901 -1998) but she blessed us a few years before her death (1995) with this intergenerational story in which she illuminates the social divisions of well-off blacks who created a "society" and culture based largely upon wealth and skin color.
West herself, the daughter of a freed slave turned successful businessman, actually summered in Martha's Vineyard where the novel is set, imparting a much-appreciated authenticity to THE...more
The Wedding is set on the East Coast during the 1950s in a community known as the Oval, where middle and upper class African Americans live. The Coles’ daughter, Shelby, decided to marry out of her race and her class and it causes distress in her family. There is a back story about each family member because of their differing opinions involving the wedding. Her grandmother, her parents, and her sister are the main focus of the different stories and they show how they gr...more
Content: 0-1 star
Delivery: 0-1 star
Relevance: 0-1 star
Impact: 0-1 star
Bonus (if warranted by additional components of the book that enhanced my experience with the read): 0-1 star
Why I read this book:
This is the book of the month for my book club. Also, fiction really isn't my genre of choice, but I wanted to step outside my comfort zone. Finally, I'd heard good things about Dorothy West's writings, so I decided to give it a shot.
Quotes I liked: (p. 93) "And to win she will have to fight back without bitterness, not replacing her hurt with hate but letting that hurt enrich her expe...more
Anyway, about the book. The simplistic writing style worked here, even though it's not usually my cup of tea. I really loved how West explai...more
"The Living is Easy" (w...more
Her family are members of the Ovalites, black bourgeoisie who have ruled African American "society" for decades. By Shelby having her wedding at Martha's Vineyard the Ovalites will be able to attend he...more
What a fascinating look at the Black professional class and the snobbery of color and class. Which group is less forgiving - the white Southerners longing for their pre-Civil War "home," or the middle/upper-class Blacks looking with disdain at their less-educated brothers. And was Tina's death punishment for Lute's daring to move up in rank? Or for his dalliances with white women? Or for his gross mistreatment of women?
This is an interesting exploration of the effects of race and class on relationships within families and the larger community. West's writing is evocative and precise; this is a lovely book.
Dorothy West was a novelist and short story writer who was part of the Harlem Renaissance. She is best known for her novel The Living Is Easy, about the life of an upper-class black family.
West's principal contribution to the Harlem Renaissance was to publish the magazine C...more