The Good Negress: A Novel

The Good Negress: A Novel

by A. J. Verdelle
3.8 5

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The Good Negress: A Novel by A. J. Verdelle

“Haunting . . . To read The Good Negress is to fall under a spell, to open a window, to fly.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
Twenty years after its initial publication, The Good Negress continues to be an important part of the literary canon, as relevant and necessary as ever. Set in 1960s Detroit, the novel centers around Denise Palms, who leaves her grandmother’s home in rural Virginia to reunite with her mother, stepfather, and older brothers. As a black teenage girl, Denise is given scarce opportunity beyond cooking, cleaning, and raising her mother’s baby. But an idealistic, demanding teacher opens Denise’s eyes to a future she has never considered, and soon she begins to question the limits of the life prescribed to her.
With lyrical, evocative prose, A. J. Verdelle captures Denise’s journey from adolescence to womanhood as she navigates the tension between loyalty and independence, and between circumstance and desire. The Good Negress is an unforgettable debut—simultaneously the portrait of a family and a glimpse into an era of twentieth-century America.
Winner of the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the 
American Academy of Arts and Letters
Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565128675
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 01/03/1995
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 39,226
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

A.J. Verdelle was born and raised in Washington, D.C., graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in political science, and went on for two postgraduate degrees in statistics and writing. She is founder and owner of Applied Statistics and Research, a consulting company in New York.

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Good Negress 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Good Negress is a classic in the tradition of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, The Color Purple and The Bluest Eye. Through the eyes of Neesy, the main charactor, the author provides a keen insight into the down-home life of a young lady raised in the loving bosom of the south, and her attempts to aclimate herself to both a strange yet familiar city and family. All of the charactors are real; the grandmother who is loving, wise, and life-smart as opposed to book-smart; the beloved, handsome and 'no-good' brother, the older, hardworking, reliable yet boring brother, the formerly glamourous mother, the stepfather who is kind but cannot take the place of Neesy's real father . . . the list of charactors goes on and on, and each one is so real, so accurately represented that the reader feels as if these are people that we know, perhaps from our childhood. As Denise begins her transformation from a shy, countrified, child whose interests are too big for her home town, into a woman who's quest for knowledge and information drives her to study day and night, and as she struggles to keep her family together and her past alive through images and rememberances of her father, the reader is taken on a ride that most will be loath to end. As someone who reads a lot of current so-called 'African American' fiction, I can tell you quite honestly that buying and reading this book was like walking into a restaurant on a hunch, and finding out that it has the best food in the city. It was fulfilling, delicious, and money well spent.
Anonymous 29 days ago
I enjoyed the book, but not the hopping back and forth. It appears Denise had great potential but no one recognized it but her teacher and J. Her family only saw her as a cook, maid, babysitter, errand runner. Even at the end she was still handling someone else's problems instead of focusing on her future.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Denise Palma is a young woman who must help her mother prepare for a baby. The family is poor and Denise will have to forego her after school lessons with her teacher who recognizes Denise's budding abilities and intelligence. This is a contemporary tale, a coming of age story about a young woman who struggles to rise above the dire circumstances of her life and reach out for a better future. The author tells the story through flashbacks, going back and forth through time. Although I felt this made the story a little disjointed and a bit rough to read, there is much poignancy and fodder for thought. The characters are wonderfully real with their own flaws and strength. Overall, a very passionate tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A.J. Verdelle tells the compelling story of a young girl who is destined to become a working class drudge just like her mother until the intervention of an uncompromising educator who recognizes her brilliance. Miss Pearson inspires Denise to shrug off her country ways and don the mantle of the educated, but the task is not completed before an addition to the family threatens Denise¿s further education. The Good Negress is an earthy coming of age story whose realism took me back to some of my grandmother¿s favorite sayings and doings. The only disappointment was the disjointed flashbacks which make the story choppy at times. Still, the language is lyrical and the characters amazingly drawn.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THE GOOD NEGRESS would have gotten a higher rating from me if it didn't shift so much in time frames. First she's in the country, then she's in the city, then she thinks about the time that something happened in the country that was relevent to the present, and the story takes us back there, then stays. Then, we are back in the present, without so much as an acknowledgment of the transition. WHEW!! Still, this coming of age story was pretty good. It felt like more of a filler during my downtime, but had enough to keep me interested.