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Cane River (Thorndike Paperback Bestsellers) [Large Print] [Paperback]

Lalita Tademy
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 2002 Thorndike Paperback Bestsellers
Set among the plantations in deepest Louisiana, CANE RIVER follows the lives of five generations of women from the time of slavery in the early 1800s, through the Civil War and into the early years of the 20th century. From down-trodden, philosophical Suzette, who was born and died as a slave, to educated, pale-skinned Emily, whose high ambitions born in freedom become her downfall, we are introduced to a remarkable cast of charactes whose struggles reflect the tragedy of slavery, the determination to overcome, and, ultimately, the triumph of the spirit. This deeply personal saga - based entirely on the author's research into her own family history - ranks with the best African-American novels and introduces a major new writer.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 645 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786233737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786233731
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,166,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Lalita Tademy's riveting family saga Cane River chronicles four generations of women born into slavery along the Louisiana river. It is a tale about the blurring of racial boundaries: great-grandmother Elisabeth notices an unmistakable "bleaching of the line" as first her daughter Suzette, then her granddaughter Philomene and finally her great-granddaughter Emily choose (or are forcibly persuaded) to bear the illegitimate offspring of the area's white French planters. In many cases these children are loved by their fathers, and their paternity is widely acknowledged. However, neither state law nor local custom allows them to inherit wealth or property, a fact that gives Cane River much of its narrative drive.

The author makes it clear exactly where these prohibitions came from. Plantation society was rigidly hierarchical. The only permissible path upward for hard-working, ambitious African Americans was indirect. A meteoric rise, or too obvious an appearance of prosperity, would be swiftly punished. To enable the slow but steady advance of their clan, the black women of Cane River plot, plead, deceive and manipulate their way through history, extracting crucial gifts of money and property along the way.

In her introduction, Tademy explains that as a young woman she failed to appreciate the love and reverence with which her mother and her four uncles spoke of their lively Grandma 'Tite (short for "Mademoiselle Petite"). She resented her great-grandmother's skin-colour biases, which were as much a part of Tademy's memory as were her great-grandmother's trademark dance moves. But the old stories haunted the author, and armed with a couple of pages of history compiled by a distant Louisiana cousin, she began to piece together a genealogy. The result? Tademy eventually left her position as vice president of a Fortune-500 company and set to work on Cane River, in which she has deftly and movingly reconstructed the world of her ancestors. --Regina Marler, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


`compelling and unsentimental' and `more complex than Roots' Times

An accomplished first novel weaves fragments of real-life family lore into a vivid tale of four generations of African-American women struggling to hold their families together, first as slaves, then as freed people subject to Jim Crow laws and white vigilantism ... The result is a richly textured family saga that resonates with intelligence and empathy (KIRKUS REVIEWS) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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On the morning of her ninth birthday, the day after Madame Francoise Derbanne slapped her, Suzette peed on the rosebushes. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 25 Feb 2002
I, like another reviewer, picked up this book because of the Ophrah show recommendation on the cover. Once I started the book I could barely put it down, the story focuses on the family history of the author who became interested in researching her family after coming across the original bill of sale for one of her ancestors. It is a beautifully written book bringing us into the minds and the lives of the women who shaped Lalita Tademy's family. It is a heartbreaking, deeply moving story of three generations of women spanning the time of slavery before the Civil War to the uncertain 'freedom times' after. It is a beautifully written account with it's roots based in fact, the book is peppered with original documents and photographs of Tademy's family. This book is a wonderful read, read it and then pass it on to all your friends.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 1 Aug 2004
After seeing the introduction to Cane River on Oprah,I too decided to order this book.I was instantly mesmerized by the author's ability to spin her story.This is a story of heart wrenching love between the generations of mothers and daughters caught up in the web of slavery,and their unbelievable struggles just to survive.Abuse,rape,starvation,insanity and being ripped away from their families just barely touch on the deep rooted pain that these women faced.Through sheer determination and love,sharing tears and sometimes laughter,they manage to tell their stories...even so many years later. It is impossible to read this book without shedding a tear.Not only did I feel the women's pain and fury,but I felt their hopelessness as well,and felt like I was literally transported back in time,to Cane River.An absolutely outstanding book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful saga of a Louisiana slave family 21 April 2001
An excellent book portaying the tragic lives of slaves in Louisiana. It mainly focuses on three women,all very different in character. However it is also the story of husbands and wifes unwillingly split apart by their masters, families destroyed by war and illness. A beautifully written book that I didn't want to end. Lets hope Lalita Tademy write many more in the same style.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing, unputdownable, haunting... 25 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This book took over my time and my heart. As an African (born and bred in middle class Africa), I was on the 'other side' of the slavery scenario: i.e. I knew nothing at all about it. I've read Roots, Amistad, Malcom X (all insightful...), watched the dreadful Gone with the wind...but this boook did one thing no other book did - it put flesh and bone and blood and heart and soul into cahracters, making me feel with them, cry with them, hurt and laugh with them, and understand slavery much more than I'd ever done (I actually felt sorry for Fredieu!). The funny thing is that this isnt a book on slavery - its a chronicle of the hopes and struggles of 4 generations of fantastic women and it just happens to be set in slavery times. I felt Suzette haunting me, waking me up to read this book, to finish it - the way Lalita felt (spooky ei?). I've tried to pass this book on to friends and family but no one wants to read it - America I don't feel is celebrating this book enough, it should be on the National Curiculum over there. You just don't know what you are missing by not reading this book. It is definitely the best read I've had in my 25 yrs on earth.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book tells the story of four inspirational and real women who just happened to be slaves. So while the story is not exclusively about slavery, it illustrates in a heartwarming as well as heartbreaking way, the manner in which this condition colours their lives and ambitions without stripping them ultimately of their true essence. If anything, the struggles and the pain and the rapes emphasise the true and steely nature of these women of colour, called negroes or black as a race but according to Tademy, encompassing a spectrum from 'milk white to caramel'.This story paints a clear and compelling picture about many things but especially about this: a woman's struggle in life is a different on from that of a man's, but a woman struggle during slavery is truly a unique though heartrending one.
What really sets Tademy's book apart is the continuity within a family of slaves who are shaped and moulded and driven in many a case by their womenfolk, and it is passing interesting and instructive to note the way they themselves developed prejudices - among their own kind!
You've read Roots and other books within that genre or perhaps you haven't. In either case, Tademy's is not a work not to be taken lightly. It is a monarch amongst books of any kind and you will feel real gratitude that she researched her family and brought home her family to you in such a real way.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put It Down 25 Sep 2001
By Louise
I very much enjoyed reading this book. I got it because it was recommended by Oprah's Book Club, and by using the reading and discussion notes on her website, alongside the book, I REALLY enjoyed the experience of reading the book.
It was absolutely fascinating to follow the lives of several women through slavery to freedom. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Lalita Tademy brings the warmth of her family straight into your life and heart the minute you pick up this book.It is an overwhelming story of slavery,the struggle of everyday life and most importantly the strong bond between each generation of women.I fell in love with this book the minute I picked it up. I was moved by the tragedy that struck Philomene and despaired when she plunged into a desperately lonely sadness.The book made me proud to be a women yet equally made me feel insignificant,taking my freedom and modern life for granted. Each woman was determined to bring her children a better life, a better home and freedom, whichever way she could. This story taught me about the French colonies in the deep south and the differing relationships between slave and owner, many surprised me,also the strength, courage, spirit and determination of these remarkable women. How proud Lalita Tademy must feel to be a part of them. I will be first in the queue if she writes a sequel!!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - I could not put it down.
Totally absorbing and would recommend. I had to keep reading this wherever I went at every opportunity - very well written.
Published 2 months ago by Caz
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
This was my favourite book.

As a woman of mixed heritage, this book both amazed and disturbed me.
I have not yet found a book to match or exceed it.
Published 5 months ago by Miss M H J Dunwoody
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
a real favourite one to read many times factual and fiction skill fully interwoven
Published 8 months ago by Sjkirby
5.0 out of 5 stars Cane River
I really enjoyed this biography. I found it quite disturbing that what happened in this part of America was not so long ago.
Published 13 months ago by shirley
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening read
I learned a lot about the micro-history of the times. I got to know the characters, they really came alive to me.
Published 14 months ago by Mrs J Cairns
5.0 out of 5 stars Can River
I really enjoyed this book, I cannot believe this happened not that long ago. I also enjoyed the book 'The Help' based along similar lines. I would highly recommend
Published 14 months ago by shirley nicholls
4.0 out of 5 stars Not my usual author
We chose this book for out book club and I have found it really interesting. Great insight into another era. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dajo Berry
5.0 out of 5 stars Cane River - Road to understanding..
I absolutely loved this book. Cane River has paved the way to the better understanding not only of racial inequalities, but most importantly the issues that has manifested itself... Read more
Published 22 months ago by JO
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, but profoundly moving
This was an elegant portrayal of the lives of three generations of women in the same family. It was uncomfortable and upsetting to read and gave a real taste of a life that had to... Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2008 by Net
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly touching
I was given this book by a friend who thought I would enjoy it as it is one of her favourites. Although not normally a fan of this type of novel I felt I ought to read it purely so... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2007 by J.E.T
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