Black Rock examines the life of someone whose life doesn't seem to be her own. Smart and beautiful but poor and black, Celia can't escape the bad luck which a neighbour foretells for her. In the end, she makes her peace with the blows brought on her by fate: her decision to face her pain makes her stronger as she looks to the future.
Told mainly from Celia's perspective, Smyth's writing resonates with the colours and the rythms of Tobago. She writes from Celia's perspective convincingly. Celia's story may be another variation of previous personal tales of life in islands colonized by white men -- according to the information on Black Rock, this is based on a true story -- but it is well-written and readable. You could argue that the other characters aren't as fleshed out, but this really is a young woman's story, not a case study. Its interest lies not in being balanced or fair to everyone involved but in Celia telling you what happened to her and what she did. I felt sympathy for Celia and those whom she loved and could only put the book down with difficulty.