Sally's Reviews > Cane River

Cane River by Lalita Tademy
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Mar 12, 09

bookshelves: mostly-literary-fiction
Recommended for: anyone -- the strongly portrayed characters will draw you in
Read in November, 2008, read count: 1

Cane River is a wonderful novel, which I highly recommend. I learned a lot about the slave/plantation/small farmer experience of Creole Louisiana. Especially interesting are the details about the gens de couleur libre and the long line of interracial unions (both forced and chosen) among Tademy's ancestors. An important thread that runs from beginning to end in Cane River is the impact of skin color biases within the black community, and Tademy's family specifically.

San Francisco Bay Area native Lalita Tademy has a unique story to tell about her family lineage, and I'm glad she took the time to research and write this novel. She convincingly portrays strong, interesting, complex women -- starting with her great-great-great-grandmother Suzette, whose nine-year-old fictionalized character launches the novel in 1834. Lalita Tademy brings a cast of memorable characters to life, with a great literary flair.

I selected this novel for the February 2009 meeting of my library-based Mostly Literary Fiction Book Discussion Group. Book group participants described the book as a "page turner," and recounted many passages that moved them to tears.

Lalita Tademy visited the Hayward Public Library for a special event on March 11, 2009, as part of our NEA-sponsored Big Read of A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines -- a novel set in Cajun Louisiana in the late 1940s. It was a memorable opportunity to meet Tademy and hear more details about her research and writing. I also recommend her second novel, Red River, which explores (again in fictional form) her father's ancestors, and the devastating Colfax, Louisiana, Massacre of 150 black freedmen in 1873.
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Michelle Lemaster Well, I just finished Cane River in, what is for me, record time. The strength of the women portrayed in the book, so often left on their own, bears witness to the experiences of women everywhere, across generations, color, and cultures, who have had to brave this tough world by their own wits, with their own courage. This is not to say that their color (s) and culture didn't make the challenges they faced any harder. Issues of color and class cannot be separated from these women's experiences.

I can't wait to meet Ms. Tademy. Her tireless research helped to create an unforgetable story. I'm so inspired! I wonder how her life has changed since writing her book? I also wonder if she has any future writing plans..


Sally Michelle wrote: "Well, I just finished Cane River in, what is for me, record time. The strength of the women portrayed in the book, so often left on their own, bears witness to the experiences of women everywhere,..."

I'm so glad you liked this book, Michelle. It's remarkable in many ways. I'm really looking forward to her visit to the library, too! Be sure to tell your friends about this event (and Gail Tsukiyama's visit on Feb. 3rd).


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