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In the Shadow of the Peacock

In the Shadow of the Peacock

by Grace Edwards-Yearwood

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Peacock is a bar in Harlem whose lights cast flickering shadows in the apartment where Frieda has lived with her daughter Celia since the child's birth during a riot in the early 1940s. Celia's father died in that riot trying to save a little boy's grandmother from a burning building. The shock of his death, added to earlier abuse suffered in the South, instills permanent fear in Frieda's heart; as a result, Celia's upbringing is strict and carefully controlled. Forbidden to accept a scholarship to a college outside the city, Celia stays in New York and falls in love with a young man whose experience and style are light-years beyond her own. When her uncles discover that he is the boy who sent Celia's father into the fire, they quietly force him to leave, fearing Frieda will collapse under the strain of that connection. Celia finishes school during the ferment of the '60s and finds a job in publishing, aware that she is one of the new token blacks. Pulling away from her mother, she visits a friend who has moved to the Caribbean and falls in love with a man who asks her to stay. She returns to New York uncertain of her previous ambitions, knowing that she must decide what kind of life she will live. Paying full tribute to the power of love, this first novel is vibrant with emotion and rich with the color and texture of everyday life in Harlem during the '40s, '50s and '60s. The author bears convincing witness to the hopes and sorrows of Celia's coming of age. (March)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Oppressed by society, the black protagonists of these two works share a resilience and a will to endure. Edwards-Yearwood's panoramic first novel, punctuated with violence, covers racial history from the World War II Harlem riots to the continued exploitation of black soldiers during the Vietnam War. Realistically, her protagonists, representatives of black women, end by willingly accepting their shadow roles. Less realistic but more interesting are the unique, assertive protagonists of Cooper's five tales, which show rural, uneducated women prevailing over their dismal, violent environments. Written in the oral folk tradition, the tales contain touches of humor and the grotesque. EdwardsYearwood takes the more traditional view, but both authors have something interesting to say about black women in America. Elizabeth Guiney Sandvick, North Hennepin Community Coll., Minneapolis

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Random House Publishing Group
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