Samantha's Reviews > The House Behind the Cedars

The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt
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really liked it
Read 3 times. Last read December 19, 2020 to January 9, 2021.

Novels about issues are tricky beasts. But what saves this one is the range of characters and the variety of views about race and marriage that we see through their eyes. So very good. I'm surprised that I made it this far without ever heard of it before and am grateful that it came up in my book club and gave me the impetus to read it.

The issue at hand is "passing"--as in presenting oneself as white despite being bi or multi-racial, including black. Since the novel takes place shortly after the Civil War in the South, that issue is quite dramatic and fraught, more so than it would be in a story with a contemporary setting.

The story was messy and complicated, with the characters full of contradictions. I LOVED that about the story--no oversimplifying or falling into "black and white" thinking, but full exploration of the shades of gray. Our star-crossed lovers, Rena and George, really had me pulling for them.

I wasn't thrilled with the ending. I saw it coming a long time ahead and sincerely hoped the story wouldn't go there. The ending is why the book does not get that fifth star from me. It hits one of my pet peeves in treatment of women in literature in those final pages (which I won't name to avoid spoiling for other readers). I'll just say the rest of the book led me to hope for better than the ending I got.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)
December 19, 2020 – Started Reading
December 19, 2020 – Shelved
January 9, 2021 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
January 9, 2021 – Finished Reading

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