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on 25 February 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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on 25 January 2002
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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on 1 August 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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on 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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on 7 August 2002
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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on 25 September 2001
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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on 13 June 2001
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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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2004
This is one of the most haunting books I have ever read. I picked it up in LAx whilst waiting for a delayed flight. I started reading it right away and did not put it down until I'd finished it (meaning that I lost almost 2 nights of sleep).
It is absolutely riveting, and simply the best book I have ever read.
Tademy's ability to give life to her characters is outstanding.
I'd definitely reccomend it to anyone who wants to indulge in a perfectly magical roller coaster of emotions.
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on 22 April 2001
This is the story of Lalita Tademy's family. She first became interested after reading a distant cousin's two page history. She became deeply drawn into it...how much was true, how much was myth. Through her fascination, she was to find that although some facts or dates were wrong, the bulk of it was true. The story is told through the lives of four generations of women, some who were taken against their will by white slave owners, and others who entered willingly into love affairs with whites, although they were forbidden to marry their lovers. I could not put the book down. Suzette was taken against her will, Philomene, after her husband was deliberately sold away from her, used her psychic gifts to manipulate her white lover into caring for and advancing their children. Her daugher Emily repeated the family pattern of taking a white lover, which ultimately ended in tragedy, as did her daughter Angelite's love affair. I found myself desperately hoping that they would find happiness after the end of slavery. Through hard work, they prospered financially, but their personal lives became hostage to the prejudices of the era. Do read this ...if you like family sagas, you will love it. I very much hope that Lalita Tademy writes a sequel, because I would like to know her story, and her mother's. The book is illustrated throughout with prints of the places, paintings and photographs of the women and their lovers and children, and official papers, such as census findings, letters and wills. Without doubt, it is the best book I have read in the last six months. Lalita Tademy has done a wonderful piece of work, and it deserves to become a best seller.
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on 8 January 2007
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 I could discuss it with her afterwards. However, I didn't have to force myself for long. Right from the first page I was enchanted by the lives of the incredible women chronicled within. Following three generations of women within a real family and the different lives they led, this is a wonderfully spun tale that gives not only an insight on the issue of slavery but more so a touching view on families and the strong bonds that hold them together.

It was beautifully written and hard to put down as I felt so involved with the charcters and the tragic twists their lives sometimes took. I was truly touched by their struggles and the strength they found to cling together and hold out even through the worst of situations. A truly inspiring book which is definitely well worth a read. Broken down into 3 sections it is easy to read and gives readers the amazing opportunity to follow how a family can change through the generations yet still hold on to their core values. Truly touching.
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