The Family

Overview

A Jamaican girl joins her parents in London at age eleven and makes formidable adjustments and choices to overcome the limitations of her family life.
The story of a young Jamaican girl, Gwendolen Brillianton, who is born into poverty and deserted by her parents when they emigrate to London. Being reunited with her parents and the siblings she has never met does not end her problems, and she realizes she must must fight her family and take control of her own life in order to ...

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Overview

A Jamaican girl joins her parents in London at age eleven and makes formidable adjustments and choices to overcome the limitations of her family life.
The story of a young Jamaican girl, Gwendolen Brillianton, who is born into poverty and deserted by her parents when they emigrate to London. Being reunited with her parents and the siblings she has never met does not end her problems, and she realizes she must must fight her family and take control of her own life in order to recover from abuse and take pride in her self. Originally published as Gwendolen.

A Jamaican girl hoins her parents in London at age eleven and makes formidable adjustments and choices to overcome the limitations of her family life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although her characters speak in authentic patois and authoritatively convey the grim travails of a dysfunctional emigre family in England, Emecheta's novel is sapped by polemic and an overkill of disaster. When her mother joins her father in London, Gwendolen is left behind in Jamaica, where she is sexually abused by a male friend of her grandmother; disclosure of her crime only brings the child resentment and ridicule. Eventually, Gwendolen's parents send for her, and she arrives in the ``Moder Kontry'' to care for her younger siblings and receive an education. But school is a hardship: ``What nobody realized was the price her dignity as a person was paying. Those who made society's laws are still a long way from knowing that Gwendolen's inability to speak or understand one brand of the English language did not automatically condemn her to be an imbecile. But to keep a school like hers running smoothly and with less friction for all concerned, it was easier for her to be regarded as one.'' Further humiliations follow when Gwendolen's father molests her, rages when he learns he is not the first to do so, and eventually impregnates her. A Nigerian native living in England, Emecheta wrote The Joys of Motherhood. (Mar.)
Library Journal
In Emecheta's latest novel, complex societal, moral, and emotional issues are played out through the life of young Gwendolen Brillianton. We meet her at age six in a Jamaican mountain village as her father emigrates to London and say good-bye at a triumphant age 16 after she's fought for survival and identity through a sequence of cruel events that include subjugation, rape, and incest. Her family's need to escape economic poverty has led to a new poverty--a moral malaise within a dissociated nuclear family. However awkward the narrative structure may appear, Emecheta is here exploring new territory. Her narrator, unlike its dispassionate Western counterpart, takes an active role by commenting on events and stating opinions--a practice evolving out of the oral tradition of the African griot that is also reminiscent of the Greek chorus in Western literary tradition. A native of Nigeria who has lived in England since 1962, Emecheta is the author of several novels, including The Rape of Shavi LJ 3/1/85. Her newest is a fine addition to any library.-- Veronica Mitchell, New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807612507
  • Publisher: Braziller, George Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1990
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Born of Ibo parents in Nigeria, Buchi Emecheta is widely known for her multilayered stories of black women struggling to maintain their identity and construct viable lives for themselves and their families. She writes, according to The New York Times, with "subtlety, power, and abundant compassion." Her numerous novels include The Slave Girl, The Family, Bride Price, and The Joys of Motherhood.

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