1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Evelyn Waugh, solar eclipses and forbidden love,
This review is from: The Ventriloquist's Tale (Hardcover)
Pauline Melville’s first novel is set in Guyana, the only English speaking country in South America, famous for its rum, gold, lush rainforest and rich folklore. From the garden city of Georgetown to the endless savannahs of the Rupununi, her colorful tale weaves its way from past to present, mixing illicit relationships of various sorts with religion, politics and Kanaima, the black magic of vengeance.
While some of the stories of incest, adultery, and the sinful urges of a Catholic priest may make some readers squirm, Melville’s storytelling weaves a magical web drawing it all together, and although some of the narrative is in Creolese (the Guyanese vernacular) it should be quite easy for non-Guyanese to follow along.
The central theme links the forbidden love between a brother and sister to ancient legends of the origin of solar eclipses, and most of the story takes place in the south of Guyana among the Amerindian villages there. The parts of the story set in modern Georgetown are not half as colorful, their purpose being to link past and present, add a bit of humor, and also provide a little more shock value.
Tying it all together is an academic researcher who comes to Guyana to trace the path of celebrated novelist Evelyn Waugh, but finds much more than she bargained for.
This is a provocative story, based on actual legends, set in a real geographical location, and for the most part the author is spot-on in her portrayal of the characters depicted.