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Mount Pleasant

(Cameroon #1)

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  71 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In Cameroon in 1931, Sara is taken from her family and brought to Mount Pleasant as a gift for Sultan Njoya, the Bamum leader cast into exile by French colonialists. Just nine years old and on the verge of becoming one of the sultan's hundreds of wives, Sara's story takes an unexpected turn when she is recognized by Bertha, the slave in charge of training Njoya's brides, ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 6th 2011)
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Average rating 3.08  · 
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There are books that are inevitably going to be polarizing to their readers, not for their content, but rather for their style. Mount Pleasant is one such book, complicated by the fact that it is about a time and place (colonial-era Cameroon) not familiar to most Western readers. Therefore, it takes more effort than most modern consumers of fiction are used to expending on trying to comprehend and appreciate the novels they read, but I for one am glad that I did.

Mount Pleasant is a metaphorical
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, reviews
DNF at about 40%. The plot device wherein we hear the main character's story through a narrative being told to another person (in this case, the first person narrator of the book) does not work in print. It just doesn't. In movies it can be an appropriate plot device because the filmmaker can actually transport you rather than having you watch one person tell another person a story (Titanic is the best example I can think of at the moment - it's Rose's story, which she is narrating to another ...more
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is different sort of novel about colonialism and culture than I've read before. Rather than focusing on what happened in a literal sense, this story circles around the early impacts of German, British, and French colonialism in what would become Cameroon. By focusing on the stories of Sara and Nebu, I got a different view of the rather nonsensical way that colonialism forced its way into the lives of ordinary people who were influenced by cultural exchanges and shifts between their own ...more
Karen Ashmore
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A student goes to Cameroon and interviews 95 year old Sara who tells her story of almost becoming the sultan's 681st wife at the tender age of nine years old, when Bertha, the wife trainer, transforms her into a boy to replace her dead son. From there the story catapults to Sara's myriad life experiences which are heavily tinged with magical realism and closely correspond to Cameroon's historical march through colonialism to become a free nation.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Too confusing to be totally enjoyable. Firstly the shift of perspective were rather random; I understand that they were telling past stories and there'd be bits of conversations between current characters but did that really have to be inserted in the middle of the 'stories'? There were at least 3 strands of past stories and because of the identity overlap, sometimes it confuses me at the beginning of the chapter as there is no indication of change in povs etc.
Betsy T.
I feel guilty saying I read this book because I only got about 35% through. I had to give up because I felt like I was plowing through it just to make it to the end, but not retaining anything. There is some really lovely writing in here, interesting storytelling with a lot of magical realism, and some interesting history about Cameroon. But for some reason the narrative just did not propel me forward, and I lost interest in the characters.

The main characters are Bertha, an American historian,
I began with the same enthusiasm I try to apply to any book I read. I must admit I was not able to finish it. I just couldn't absorb any of the details necessary to enjoy a book. The writing just wasn't enjoyable. I felt as though I read for hours and had zero recall of what I read, which is contrary to the real me. It was repetitious; I tried so VERY hard to love it, I just couldn't.
Valeria Spencer
May 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
Maybe I did not give it a fair shake, but I quit after 50 pages. The story was not compellingly told and was very repetitious. I do not recommend spending your time on this tale.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
A curious book but moresoI'm scratching my head over it. It's an "as told to" book and the levels of who is telling what becomes murky because the perspective changes. And then some of the stories seem like side stories or background stories.

Overall, it's meandering as well as disorganized. I can't recommend this.

A few quotes:

Of course Sara would also hear the gruff voice of Njoya calling for her from the depths of his deathbed, calling for her, much to the stupefaction of the six hundred and
Aug 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF 50%. I really wanted to like this book and I tried to get through it for weeks. The story was a jumble of different stories from different timelines arranged in a confusing way. I truly enjoyed getting a feeling for colonial Cameroon and the characters of that time. There were short sections of the book I loved. However the interaction between the American narrator telling Sara's story was what killed it for me. There was so much description of how great Sara's story was and how you wouldn't ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very ambitious novel about a particular era in Cameroon's history told by a old woman who as a child, lived in the Sultan's court. It's more Salman Rushdie than James Michener - history by way fables, gossip and old wives tales - literally. For me, it fell apart at the end - but I appreciated what it was going for.
I liked the author's writing style, but I think the book was too disjointed. He jumped around between several different characters and timelines and I think the book would have been more enjoyable if he had focused on just one or two main characters. Learned a good amount about the colonial history of Cameroon, though.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Beautifully written and incredibly detailed information on Cameroonian colonial history but I’m not entirely sure what the author’s message was.
Fran Mason
I didn't finish it. I didn't think it was well written.
thoughts coming shortly
rated it liked it
Apr 30, 2016
Diane Burlando
rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2017
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
At 250 pages in, the female narrator has recounted the story of the young man she is replacing, and of the male leaders. Her own story has at best been glossed over. After Homegoing I was hoping for another perspective on colonialism, but it's buried deep in this and not worth the effort.
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
rated it really liked it
May 07, 2016
Patricia Martin
rated it did not like it
May 12, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2017
Allya Yourish
c'est très compliqué de comprendre pour moi (je sais que mon français n'est pas parfait), mais j'ai apprécié ce roman. J'ai rencontré l'autre, Nganang, et il a fait les choses du roman clair que je n'avais pas compris en lisant.

Il a dit quelque chose comme, "We have a word for children who lose their parents, but no word for parents who lose their children. How great of a loss that is, and we don't have the vocabulary to describe it." C'est un des sujets du roman, et pour moi, c'est le plus
rated it liked it
May 13, 2017
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it
2016 Reading Challenge - A book with a protagonist who has your occupation

(not technically my profession, but I was trained as a Africana Studies historian)

This book was very interesting. I know next to nothing of Cameroon's history, through the story of Sara/Nebu I got a glimpse of a country wrestled over by three colonial powers (Germany, England, & France), all the while trying to maintain it's indigenous sovereignty and culture. Sara/Nebu grew up within the Sultan of Bamum's court,
Heidi De Vries
rated it really liked it
Apr 01, 2016
F Cats
rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2016
rated it liked it
Dec 01, 2018
rated it really liked it
Oct 13, 2012
Lily Solomon
rated it it was amazing
Oct 31, 2019
rated it did not like it
Jun 02, 2017
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Goodreads Librari...: Create Series - 'Cameroon' by Patrice Nganang 3 28 Sep 12, 2019 05:13AM  

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“There are stories that don't need a plot. Sooner or later they rise above the confusion and untangle their mysteries in a series of sentences.” 0 likes
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