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Overview

The critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the classic historical novel Segu, Maryse Condé has pieced together the life of her maternal grandmother to create a moving and profound novel.

Maryse Condé's personal journey of discovery and revelation becomes ours as we learn of Victoire, her white-skinned mestiza grandmother who worked as a cook for the Walbergs, a ...
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Victoire: My Mother's Mother

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Overview

The critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the classic historical novel Segu, Maryse Condé has pieced together the life of her maternal grandmother to create a moving and profound novel.

Maryse Condé's personal journey of discovery and revelation becomes ours as we learn of Victoire, her white-skinned mestiza grandmother who worked as a cook for the Walbergs, a family of white Creoles, in the French Antilles.

Using her formidable skills as a storyteller, Condé describes her grandmother as having "Australian whiteness for the color of her skin...She jarred with my world of women in Italian straw bonnets and men necktied in three-piece linen suits, all of them a very black shade of black. She appeared to me doubly strange."

Victoire was spurred by Condé's desire to learn of her family history, resolving to begin her quest by researching the life of her grandmother. While uncovering the circumstances of Victoire's unique life story, Condé also comes to grips with a haunting question: How could her own mother, a black militant, have been raised in the Walberg's home, a household of whites?

Creating a work that takes readers into a time and place populated with unforgettable characters that inspire and amaze, Condé's blending of memoir and imagination, detective work and storytelling artistry, is a literary gem that readers won't soon forget.
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Editorial Reviews

Alison McCulloch
…[a] beguiling mix of fact and fiction, officially billed as a novel but also as a work of "reconstitution." At its heart, it is a story about mothers and daughters
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Turning her historical fiction chops on her own family, novelist Condé (Story of the Cannibal Woman) looks at her grandmother Victoire’s hard life in Guadeloupe at the turn of the 19th century, “a prisoner of her illiteracy, her illegitimacy, her gender” who nevertheless gave Condé’s mother a life among the educated black bourgeoisie. Impregnated at 16 by a well-respected womanizer twice her age, Victoire was treated like a criminal, beaten by her father and run off from her home. After fleeing her shame, Victoire is taken on as a servant by a white Creole family, where she spent most of her life; there, her talent for cooking brings her the attention, admiration and business of prominent white Creoles. Condé proves just as impressive in her own medium: a tall man is “long as a day without bread”; the sea on a hot day shines “like a gold bar being smelted.” Deceptively slim, Condé’s 15th title is a savory, complex mix of Caribbean culture, black history and the lives of ordinary women. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In this eponymous work, Guadeloupean-born novelist Conde offers a fictionalized account of her grandmother Victoire's life. The light-skinned daughter of a "petroleum blue Negro," Victoire gives birth to a black daughter, Jeanne (Conde's mother), who eventually aspires to join the rich, black upper class. Jeanne detests Victoire's status as the chef for a white Creole family, the Walbergs, and especially Victoire's singular friendship with Anne-Marie Walberg and long-term romance with Anne-Marie's husband, Boniface. Though a personal history, this novel illuminates important class and racial issues at the turn of the 20th century in the French Antilles and in fact reads like nonfiction. Also, via Conde's exceptional prose, it divulges the strong love between a mother and daughter who failed to communicate. VERDICT While Conde has accomplished a remarkable feat in recovering so much about her grandmother's life, she has written stronger historical novels, including Desirada, awarded the prestigious Prix Carbet de la Caraibe for the best book by a Caribbean author. For Conde fans and readers of literary and international fiction.—Faye A. Chadwell, Oregon State Univ. Lib., Corvallis\
From the Publisher
"Victoire is indeed a victory — of style, form and of course, voice. For those who are new to Maryse Condé, you are in for a delicious and absorbing treat." — Rebecca Walker, author of Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439100585
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 1/19/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,140,306
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Maryse Condé is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including Crossing the Mangrove, Segu, Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, and I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem. She lives in New York and Montebello, Guadeloupe.
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