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Review: The Book of Night Women, Marlon James

From the back cover:

“Lilith is born into slavery on a sugar plantation in Jamaica near the beginning of the nineteenth century.  Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they – and  she – will come to both revere and fear.  The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been conspiring to stage a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age they see her as the key to their plans.”

When I started this book, I basically hated it.  I hate slave narratives because it is just so wrong that it makes me feel ill and uncomfortable.  It’s hard for me to believe that people could do such a thing to other people.  Regardless, I persevere because it is important and I should know and anyway, I had to review this book, so I didn’t have much of a choice.

That said, the power of this book seriously grew on me as I went in.  I grew to really like Lilith even though she commits the most horrible crimes; you can almost see what drives her to them.  I was repelled but fascinated by the plans of the slave revolt and their interactions with each other.  I almost always wanted to smack all the white people and I must admit that I was pleased when they got their comeuppance and disappointed that not all of them did.  There are some seriously disturbing scenes in this book, so I don’t think it’s appropriate for everyone.  It’s not that I can say this was a good book, either, because nothing to do with slavery is good.  It is, however, a daring story of the life of one slave woman, the every day struggle just to get by, and ultimately a powerful tribute to impossible love and the depth of human emotion.

Buy The Book of Night Women on Amazon.

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