Fiction. Caribbean Studies. Translated from the French by Dolores A. Schaefer. VALE OF TEARS is a stark, meditative, and vivid exploration of Coralie Santeuil's life through a series of flashbacks she has on New Year's eve as she makes fourteen stops while walking from one end of the busy city of Port-au-Prince to the other in a last quest to save her life and retain her dignity. Although the novel is set in the period around the Second World War, it is in many ways a book about contemporary Haiti. We pause to wonder what happens to the privileged when their world disintegrates. We contemplate thesurvival skills of the poor. Vale of Tears offers a critical reading of the class system and corruption which plague the country. Paulette Poujol-Oriol is one of Haiti's most celebrated novelists.
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Vale of Tears: A Novel from Haiti based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Vale Of Tears is a riches-to-rags story centred on Coralie, a weak woman who makes some bad decisions and who is taken advantage of by others. The book interleaves the story of one day - new year's eve, late 1950s, in which she is trawling the city looking for someone who can lend her rent money - with her descent from a life of privilege as the beautiful, fair-skinned daughter of a wealthy family.Other reviewers have liked this book, but again, this is one that just didn't work for me. I found the style very distancing - the camera stays in medium shot, so the focus is very much on the overall trajectory. This meant that there was very little psychology, either for Coralie or those who do her down - it's much more 'tell' than 'show'. There's not much dialogue, and what there is is expository rather than insightful. I found myself comparing this book to Jean Rhys's Voyage In The Dark, which is a similar story in that it's about the inevitable sad decline of a young, naive woman with nothing but her beauty to live on - but despite the predictability of the story, you feel what Anna is feeling and in a way can understand the decisions she makes.