by Bernice L. McFadden

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781936070787
Publisher: Akashic Books
Publication date: 05/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 744,251
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, including the classic Sugar and Nowhere Is a Place, which was a Washington Post Best Fiction title for 2006. She is a two time Hurston/Wright award fiction finalist as well as the recipient of two fiction honor awards from the BCALA. McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Read an Excerpt


a novel
By Bernice L. McFadden

Akashic Books

Copyright © 2010 Bernice L. McFadden
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-936070-11-4


If Jack Johnson had let James Jeffries beat him on July 4, 1910, which would have proven once and for all that a white man was ten times better than a Negro, then black folk wouldn't have been walking around with their backs straight and chests puffed out, smiling like Cheshire cats, upsetting good, God-fearing white folk who didn't mind seeing their Negroes happy, but didn't like seeing them proud.

If Jack Johnson had given up and allowed James Jeffries to clip him on the chin, which would have sent him hurling down to the floor where he could have pretended to be knocked out cold, then maybe Easter Bartlett's father wouldn't have twirled his wife and daughters around the house by their pinky fingers and his son John Bartlett Jr. wouldn't have felt for the first time in his life pleased and glad to be a black man. And if Jack Johnson had let the shouts of "Kill that nigger" that rang out from the crowd unravel him or the Nevada heat irritate him, maybe then he would have lost the fight and things would have remained as they were.

Things could have gone a different way if Jack Johnson hadn't gotten the notion some years earlier to cap his teeth in gold, so his smile added insult to injury when he was announced the victor of the "The Fight of the Century," and that glittering grin slapped white folk hard across their faces.

And if John Bartlett Sr. hadn't bet on Jack Johnson to win, then he wouldn't have had the extra money to buy his wife and two daughters new dresses from the most expensive dress shop in town, and the older of the two girls called Rlizbeth wouldn't have let her hair down and donned that brand-new yellow dress that made her look like an angel, so those white boys wouldn't have noticed her, wouldn't have called out to her from across the road, wouldn't have followed her and jumped her just as she reached the bend and dragged her into the brush, where they raped and beat her.

If all of that hadn't happened, then Easter wouldn't have looked up to see her sister crawling home on all fours like a dog, with a bloodstain shaped like the state of Texas on the backside of Rlizbeth's dress. Easter wouldn't have bore witness to the bite marks on Rlizbeth's breasts, and wouldn't have heard the silence that streamed out of Rlizbeth's mouth when she opened it to scream.

No sound at all.

Because after the first boy rammed his dick inside of Rlizbeth, her voice floated up into the sky never to be heard from again. And Easter wouldn't have had to accompany John Sr. down to the sheriff's office because her mother wouldn't let him go alone and wouldn't-couldn't-send John Jr. because that boy hadn't unclenched his fists or his jaw since it happened, and besides blood was swimming in his irises and he claimed to hear it thumping in his ears, so Easter went and then watched her father change from a man to boy right before her very eyes.

And if Sheriff Wiley had not forced Easter and her father to stare at the filthy soles of his boots, because it had not suited him to remove his feet from atop the wooden desk, and if Wiley had looked them straight in the eye like he would have his own kind instead of watching them from beneath the shade of the wide-brim hat he wore, and maybe if he'd believed John Sr. when he said, "I knows it was white boys cause we found tufts of blond and red hair clutched in Rlizbeth's hands," and Wiley had just gone out and found those boys and arrested them instead of suggesting that Rlizbeth had torn her own dress, bit her own breasts, and broke her own hymen all in order to cover up the somewhere or someone she had no place being or seeing-then maybe life for Easter would have been different.

But Wiley didn't do the right thing, and Easter looked up at her father who sat next to her with his head bowed and she heard his timid voice say, "Yes suh, I suppose you could be right, but how do you explain the hair? The red and blond hair?"

Wiley said he couldn't explain it and then dismissed them by tugging the brim of his hat down over his face and bid them a good day. If he hadn't done that and Easter hadn't seen the tears welling up in her father's eyes, she wouldn't have turned into the snarling howling thing and her father wouldn't have caught her by the waist just as she leapt across the desk intent on tearing out Wiley's throat.

If Jack Johnson hadn't been quite so dark and hadn't pumped his fists in the air like the champion he was then maybe ...

If Rlizbeth had just put on one of the old, worn dresses she owned and kept her hair pulled back in a tight bun, Easter probably never would have written the word HATE on a piece of paper, crumpled it into a ball, dropped it in a hole in the ground, and covered it with dirt, and her mother wouldn't have tried to go back to living as if that awful day hadn't happened and those boys weren't walking around as free as birds, and she never would have had the strain of pretending that everything was normal even though Rlizbeth had lost her voice and John Jr. had taken to staring down every white man in the town and John Sr. was intent on trying to make himself grow big again and thought that taking refuge in the arms of another woman would help him do that.

And if Zelda hadn't found the love letters pressed into the pages of her husband's Bible, letters written on fine onionskin paper that smelled of rose water, then John Jr. wouldn't have caught her crying, wouldn't have seen the letters scattered on the floor, and wouldn't have hit his father so hard that it knocked the wind out of both men. If all of that hadn't happened, then John Jr. wouldn't have had to leave the house, the town, and the state, and Easter might have gone on loving and respecting her father. But it did and Zelda's heart snapped under the strain, pain, and betrayal, and she died.

If there had not been a funeral, there would not have been a repast, so there would have been no need for Easter's father to wait patiently for the last mourner to leave the house before he changed his clothes, mounted his horse, and galloped off into the night leaving the scent of his pipe tobacco hanging in the air. And if he hadn't left, then he couldn't have returned with the wide-eyed, milky-brown woman who smelled of rose water and wasn't much older than Rlizbeth. He couldn't have brought her into their home, told Easter and Rlizbeth her name-which was Truda-and then informed them that she was his new wife and their new mother.

If Jack Johnson had just thrown the fight and Rlizbeth had maybe walked down a different road and not have been so pretty, everything would have remained the same in their small home and Easter would not have known the aching sadness of a dead mother, gone brother, and mute and ruined sister. And if there were no ache and no sadness then Easter would not have taken the gown that her mother died in, laid it across the dining room table, and arranged the china, crystal, and the silverware with the scrolled handles on top of it as if it was a special holiday and the family was expecting dinner guests. And she would not have placed bunches of flowers at the neckline, hemline, and sleeves-but she did, and when Truda walked into the dining room the next morning she forgot to breathe.

And if Truda hadn't forgotten to breathe, then maybe she wouldn't have screamed, which of course brought John Sr. into the room to see what was the matter. After that he kicked in the door to Easter's bedroom and found her sitting at the edge of the bed staring at her palms. He charged in and loomed over her like a great black hawk and hollered that he should have drowned her at birth. And if he hadn't said those hurtful words, Easter would have stayed in Waycross, Georgia, married, had children, grown old, and died.

But on that summer day in 1910, Jack Johnson did beat James Jeffries and Rlizbeth did put on that yellow dress that made her look like an angel and nothing and nobody was ever the same again.


Excerpted from Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden Copyright © 2010 by Bernice L. McFadden. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Glorious 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
CB25 More than 1 year ago
Oh where do I start.First let me say this I am an avid historial fiction reader. But this book definitly misses the mark on so many levels. The plot and the characters are underdeveloped and the story jumps around making it a bit confusing to keep up. To make a long story short I didnt like it and would not recommend it at all. I recently read "The help" by Kathryn Stockett in three days (which is a 452 pg book) this one is only 235 and it Took me a month! I Have read "sugar" and this bitter earth and thought it was genious
PamT2u More than 1 year ago
I am a serious fan of Berniece McFadden. This was not her best work by far. It is however an good start. I feel like the book lacked depth and there was a rush to complete the story. The premise is good but the sub stories could have been deleted to give better focus to the main character and her story. The story does jump around and will leave some confused especially since a lot is left to the reader's imagination. As for the period in which the story is set, it is a fascinating time and the history is rich and complex. That seems to be missing from the plot. Also lacking is McFadden's usual ability to develp her characters and make you love(or hate) them. I felt very little connection to most of the character including the main one and felt some of the characters weren't even necessary. In all, I was not impressed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I simply adore the raw intensity of this novel. This only continues to increase my love for Bernice McFadden's writing.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
From My Blog...Spanning the years from 1910 to 1961, Bernice L. McFadden takes the reader back to a time many want to forget, yet should not be forgotten in her novel Glorious. The reader is introduced to Easter Bartlett a young woman born in Waycross, Georgia, who takes the reader through the atrocities of rape, lynching, and murder to a traveling Vaudeville act, Slocum's Traveling Brigade, to the birth of the Harlem Renaissance. Glorious is a beautifully crafted narrative of historical moments, heart-breaking facts, joys and betrayals as told through the eyes of Easter Bartlett a loving, kind woman who happened to also be a voracious reader and writer in a time when those who where not white were typically not literate. Glorious is a novel that takes the reader through five decades and numerous states filled with beautiful prose, dialect, and description, the characters spring to life off the pages and one cannot help but to share in the sorrowful moments as well as the joyful ones. Bernice L. McFadden, through her graceful and resilient character, Easter Bartlett, brings history to life and makes the reader feel as though they are there beside Easter. Glorious is a novel that should be read, pondered, read again and discussed, and a novel I wholeheartedly recommend to all readers.
SheilaDeeth on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Back in 1910 a black man defeated a white man in a fair fight and the black people who¿d laid bets on the result were understandably elated. Soon afterwards, a girl called Easter, who already had plenty of reasons for hatred in her life, wrote that one word HATE on a piece of paper, crumpled it up, and buried it.Easter wrote many other words too as she grew older in a world of radical unfairness and unthinking cruelty. Glorious, by Bernice McFadden, is her tale. Reading how a pregnant black cook is murdered because a total stranger, unfortunately also black, has committed a crime, then watching the slaughter of her unborn child, leaves the reader sickened and saddened for all those others whose stories have not been, and surely should be told. But Easter buries her hate and herself and moves on.The novel introduces a fascinating cast of characters, some larger than life, some smaller, some real and some imagined. But all the lives are gloriously genuine and so powerfully told. I even found myself searching for author E.V. Gibbs on the internet, to see if she really existed. But I¿ve read Their Eyes were watching God, so I know Zora Neale Hurston was real.The story progresses from Georgia to railroad tracks to Harlem and high-class apartments in New York. Through waves of powerful emotions, innocent errors and devastating betrayals, it all ends back where it began, in the small town of Waycross, Georgia. Years have passed and it¿s now 1961. The world is changing, but hasn¿t changed enough. And the reader learns where Easter¿s wonderful mind and words have led her. It could be tragic, but instead it¿s powerfully hopeful, beautiful and moving. And the quote from Zora Neale Hurston on the final page¿¿God balances the sheet in time¿¿rings gloriously true in the reader¿s mind.
VickiLN on LibraryThing 5 months ago
What an amazing book this is!! I was hooked from the Prologue and couldn't put it down. The story is full of every emotion I've ever felt and then some. It will make you cringe, cry and be in awe of the people you're reading about. It will make you laugh and want to hug many of the characters and tell them how proud you are of them. It will make you want to say "shame on you" to others. The book is so well written that it seems like these are real people and the book is a true story. I'm sure parts of it are, the book is about a very cruel time. This is a powerful story and one I think everyone should read.
zibilee on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Easter Bartlett has just left her home in the South after a series of devastating events has struck her family. Traveling alone from town to town, Easter goes from working as a sideshow act in a traveling circus to becoming a schoolteacher in a one room school. Though she meets new acquaintances and falls in love, Easter is ever on the move whenever the difficulties of life threaten to trap her. When she meets up with an old friend from her home town, Easter decides to travel to New York and gets caught up in the Harlem Renaissance, becoming a contributor of short stories to various magazines. In New York, Easter runs into an old friend from the circus and meets a very rich white woman who will become her benefactor, never dreaming that one day this woman will betray her in the worst of ways and send her future spinning out of control. Though Easter has risen high, she ultimately falls to earth once again, her dreams and plans thrown by the wayside of her ever-changing life. Filled with heartache and wisdom, Bernice McFadden blends the tale of Easter Bartlett with the tale of the real life heroes of the Jim Crow south and the Harlem Renaissance.This book was a very quick read for me. The fact that the prose was so fluid, coupled with the fact that the story moved along with such a great clip made this a book that I was easily engrossed in and finished in one afternoon. Easter's story is one filled with frustration, heartbreak and pain. She made for a very likable protagonist and I relished the time spent with her. She had a great innocence about her and she saw the world in such an interesting way that it was impossible not to fall in love with her. Most of her reactions to her fate seemed genuine and well written but there were points that I felt that I would have loved to have read more about her internal thought process.The story itself was very inspired. McFadden has a lot to say about the marginalization of the black community during the early century, and says it well. She brings to her reader the agonies and atrocities of lynching and the despicable aspects of segregation and prejudice in crystal clear prose, never overdoing it. Instead she paints a picture of the inequalities between the two races with intensity and a level of reality that I was really able to appreciate. Her characters, real and imagined, were truly a product of their times and they really opened my eyes to the vast gulf separating the races during that time period.I think that one of the most interesting parts of the book revolved around the storyline of Easter's time at the circus. It was there that she met the flamboyantly sexual and intense dancer, Rain. Though the story alludes to the fact that Easter had bisexual leanings, it was never clearly picked as a subject to focus on in the narrative. Rain and Easter's relationship was interesting because it held the hallmarks of a mother/daughter relationship, as well as being a sisterly and lover-like relationship. When Easter flees the circus, it was easy to see that what she was really fleeing was the feelings that she had for Rain, feelings that were, unfortunately for her, not reciprocated. I was saddened that Easter had to leave with such sadness and bitterness in her heart but was very pleased when the two women's paths crossed again in New York. Though their relationship was very different the second time around, it was nice to see that their journey together would continue.As the story winds towards its conclusion, Easter has been relegated to a sad fate. Many years have passed and due to the scandal that transpired after her betrayal, Easter is left living out her days far from the splendor in which she once lived. I liked the way McFadden chose to reveal those lost days of Easter's past through flashbacks and thought that it was fitting that she eventually was able to put the pain of her past to rest. Easter found a way to live with her lot after all, though the twists of her tale were full o
pinkcrayon99 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Right off the heels of Loving Donovan by Bernice McFadden, I was encouraged by my Twitter followers to read Glorious. It did not take much coaxing! I am such a Bernice McFadden fan. I put down my current reads scored Glorious from the library and immediately started reading. Our narrator is a young Easter Bartlett from Waycross, GA. We enter her life when her sister Rlizbeth has experienced a horrible life changing event. This tragedy changed the family forever and sent Easter on the journey of a lifetime. With her mother dead, father remarried, and sister despondent, Easter set off on an uncharted course. Her new life begins as a maid and ironically ends as one. Easter meets people and has experiences on her way that made for some great stories that she wrote about daily. After viewing a friend being lynched and baby cut from her womb, Easter knew it was time to leave the Jim Crow south. She finds herself in the middle of a traveling vaudeville act and falling in love with its main attraction, Rain. When Rain didn't return her love and betrayed her with another, Easter walked away and set off on another journey. This one led her into the arms of a young lover. When that well ran dry, Easter found herself on a train where she ran into her childhood friend Madeline. With no plan and no family ties, Madeline talked her into going to Harlem.Easter started a new life in Harlem. Shortly after arriving, Easter had to make a major life decision. She also met the man she would marry, Colin, he was a West Indian. Then one day Easter had a visit from the past, Rain. Rain brought rain and sunshine into Easter's life. Throughout her life Easter wrote stories as an escape but now she had an opportunity to have her stories published. She became a part of the well known movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. Meredith, Rain's lover, encouraged Easter to publish her work and later became her benefactor. This proved to be a blessing and a curse. I loved the blend of fact and fiction McFadden let flow throughout this book. I must say one of my favorite parts of the book was when Easter met Langston Hughes. McFadden just eased him in so seamlessly. It¿s no secret that I am fan of McFadden¿s work, but what I really appreciate about her writing style is how she blends a character¿s background/history into the story. This is her ¿signature¿ in my opinion. Another reoccurring theme in McFadden¿s work is women who are faced with some of the most insurmountable pain and suffering yet they persevere. These are women with real issues that they work through and find love and restoration in the midst of it all.
altima313 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Praises to Bernice McFadden, she is one of the most gifted artists of contemporary literature. I have had the pleasure of meeting her on several occasions. Her Blog is wonderful to read when your in-between reading her books.When her books are available for purchase, it is without a doubt that I will be running to the store to buy it. Glorious was no exception. McFadden does an excellent job of weaving real historical figures and events with fictional ones into the story. The novel opens with the historic "Fight of the Century" between Jack Johnson and James Jeffries. Much mention is made of Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association and Ota Benga, the African pygmy, one of the first humans to be exhibited in a zoo.This amazing story takes you from the horrors of the South to Harlem Renaissance.Referencing, Langston Hughes and A'lelia Walker, daughter of Madame CJ Walker and Claude McKay and Carl Van Vechten. The protagonist and fictional character, Easter Bartlett is strong and resilient and was very likable. McFadden created unforgettable characters that draw you into the story with well conceived plots. LOVED IT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in a long time. The main character is ourstanding.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this book, I love this author so had to read another of her books and it was strongly recommended by a trusted friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Glorious is an engaging page turner. It is a wonderful choice for Book Clubs and a must read for avid book lovers. McFadden does a wonderful job of keeping the reader in suspense and intrigue simultaneously with the many facets and evolving traits of the novel's characters and their distinct characteristics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great story! Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is actually a read for my book club
Guest More than 1 year ago
I use the book for leisure reading
Guest More than 1 year ago
Really injoyed it......
pattymont More than 1 year ago
Ms. McFadden does it again! A great read. It flowed from beginning to end. I love reading about this period - Harlem Renaissance. Also, I love th mix of history and fiction. I have read most of Ms. McFadden's novels and each one has been excellent. I look forwarrd to her next novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Felicia McCaskill More than 1 year ago
Very easy read, wildly colorful in painting a vivid literary picture. However, ran out of steam at a crucial point in the story. Bernice is a wonderful storyteller with rich and engrossing characters. I feel she may have short changed herself and her readers at the end. Still worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't want the book to end. Look forward to reading more by McFadden.