Condé gives shape and depth to Rosélie’s story by interrupting these flashbacks with tales featuring vivid and humorous supporting characters, who try to make Rosélie snap out of her languor and get on with her life. And Richard Philcox’s translation ably conveys the contrast between Rosélie’s flat, desultory reflections and the lively voices surrounding her.
The New York Times
Caribbean author Cond (Crossing the Mangrove) makes one woman's search for identity a vehicle to explore a vast range of racial, cultural and gender issues in a seething novel that exposes the violent ferment of postapartheid South Africa. Ros lie Thibaudin's travels and travails have led her from Guadeloupe, the island of her birth, to Paris, London, Tokyo and, finally, Cape Town. With the mysterious murder of her white husband, Stephen Stewart, the son of an English father and a French mother, Ros lie, whose self-doubt is almost paralyzing, is suddenly without the support that has kept her going for 20 years. Her resolve to stay in Cape Town in order not to abandon her slain husband forces her to adapt and to re-examine her past. As the secrets of Stephen's life unravel, Ros lie's self-examination becomes more painful and rewarding. This literary novel with its multicultural themes may disappoint those expecting a conventional murder thriller. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
After the mysterious death of her longtime lover, Rosélie Thibaudin, a native of Guadeloupe now living in Cape Town, is in search of her own identity. In a stream-of-consciousness narrative that fluctuates between third and first person, Rosélie reflects on her difficult family history and her relationship with Stephen as well as with past lovers. Though a talented painter, Rosélie has allowed her identity to be subsumed by Stephen's dominant personality, and as a black woman involved with a white man and living outside her native country, she often feels either reviled or invisible. This is a difficult book, revealing the violent daily struggle of living in modern South Africa. Condé's (Crossing the Mangrove) most compelling irony is demonstrating that in an increasingly global society, humans still fail to trust or understand those who are different from themselves. Recommended for literary collections and those specializing in international literature.
Adult/High School - Rosélie Thibaudin's husband, Stephen, was murdered in Cape Town, South Africa, just after midnight, by an unknown assailant. The motive is as mysterious as why a white man such as he would venture out so late into the night. In the months following his death, Rosélie discovers that she did not know her husband very well. She also realizes that she does not know herself that well either. This story is as much about Rosélie discovering who she is as it is about finding out who her husband was and why he was killed. The language is rich and dense, as is the portrait Condé paints of postapartheid South Africa. Rosélie wanders this landscape in a daze of memories and revelations, trying to find her place in a world left suddenly without focus. She was married to Stephen for 20 years, and suddenly she finds that their time together was either a sham or something else that only he could explain. This is a book for advanced teen readers who are interested in modern literature outside the American vernacular and experience. It depicts complicated relationships between adults and offers a glimpse of a country in a state of social and racial revolution.-Will Marston, Berkeley Public Library, CACopyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Caribbean painter reels from the aftermath of her lover's murder in Cape Town, South Africa, in this retread of Conde's usual themes: racial alienation and women's struggles for autonomy (Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, 2004, etc.). Roselie has been reduced to telling fortunes and giving therapeutic massages after her white partner, English professor Stephen, whose proposals of marriage she's ducked for 20 years, is killed, supposedly in a robbery, outside a convenience store where he'd gone to get cigarettes at midnight. The homicide detective on the case doesn't buy it, but Roselie's too preoccupied with ruminating about her past to provide many clues. First, there is the estrangement from her Guadeloupean parents, genteel Creole Rose and rakish mulatto Elie. Traveling to Paris, Roselie meets reggae star Salama Salama, who takes her to N'Dossou, Africa, then abandons her for a more advantageous marriage. After dabbling in prostitution, Roselie encounters Yeats scholar Stephen in a N'Dossou bar, and the two are off to New York City, where Roselie has an affair with Ariel, who runs a progressive school in the Bronx. Since Stephen wants to experience Cape Town after apartheid, they decamp again, and Roselie tries to concentrate on her painting. Resentful of the hateful stares her relationship with Stephen elicits, Roselie closets herself in her studio, admitting only her maid and friend, Dido. Only after Stephen's death does she suspect his young male proteges, and she embarks on an investigation of her own. Suspense is beside the point, as is characterization of the ever-faithful-in-his-fashion Stephen, whose "secret" is telegraphed from the beginning. This is Roselie's story as sheinternalizes centuries of racial and sexual enslavement and, like other Conde heroines before her, decides that her salvation lies in shedding all impediments, internal and external, to self-expression. Conde's flair for sensual detail-Cape Town streetscapes, heady black coffee-and her wry cynicism offset flabby plotting.