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Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall

Praisesong for the Widow (edition 1983)

by Paule Marshall

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289438,912 (3.65)1 / 21
Title:Praisesong for the Widow
Authors:Paule Marshall
Info:Putnam Pub Group (T) (1983), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Read
Tags:220mm, P8 20C, African American, America, American, Female Author, Female Protagonist, Fiction, Gender, Hardcover, Literature, Novel, Race, Read

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Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall



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this is really wonderful. i had to read it in snatches of paragraphs and pages over far, far too long for such a slim and layered volume, but couldn't stop myself because i was liking it so much.

the language and the story are both fantastic, although the motivation/feelings of the characters were sometimes inexplicable to me. (notably i didn't understand at all why thomasina reacted with anger at all, or why avey even thought she would be disappointed with what she found the excursion to be.) could be a generational thing or a cultural thing, but it was never significant enough to get in the way of the story and the reading. in the midst of so many beautiful descriptions of so many things throughout this book, i think the short, page-long sex scene she writes may be the most beautiful description of making love that i've ever read.

this is about separation and loss, longing, discovery and recovery. it is really lovely and i'm looking forward to reading it again and giving it the focus it is due (and likely rating it higher). ( )
  elisa.saphier | Feb 9, 2014 |
"What's your nation?" he asked her, his manner curious, interested, even friendly all of a sudden. "Arada . . . ? Is you an Arada?" He waited. "Cromanti maybe . . . ?" And he again waited. "Yarraba then . . . ? Moko . . . ?"

On and on he recited the list of names, pausing after each one to give her time to answer.

"Temne . . . ? Is you a Temne maybe? Banda . . . ?"

What was the man going on about? What were these names? Each one made her head ache all the more. She thought she heard in them the faint rattle of the necklace of cowrie shells and amber Marion always wore. Africa? Did they have something to do with Africa?

Sixty-something widow Avey Johnson is on a Caribbean cruise with a couple of friends, an annual event since the death of her husband some four years earlier. Something happens to Avey on this cruise. She has a sudden urge to leave the ship and take the next plane home, so she disembarks at Grenada, the ship's next port of call. Instead of flying home immediately, Avey is drawn into the annual excursion from Grenada to the out island of Carriacou - a sort of ritual homecoming for the islanders who now make their homes on Grenada. The experience becomes a spiritual and cultural homecoming for Avey.

This novel explores collective memory as expressed through religious and cultural rituals and oral traditions in the United States and the Caribbean. Recommended for readers with an interest in African American literature, Caribbean literature, the African diaspora, women's studies, and religious studies. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 13, 2014 |
This story fell a bit flat for me. The flashbacks and memories were the most engaging and driving portions of the book, but they were few and far between. And unfortunately, there just weren't enough of them to give real meat or believability to the narrator or focus of the story. The beginning and the end especially dragged, and in general I just have to say that I found myself bored for much of the novel. Certainly, it's an easy read and doesn't take much time if you're curious...however, I'm afraid it's not one I would generally recommend. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Aug 6, 2011 |
This is an important book for me because the main character ends up in a search for herself in Grenada -- at some locations that I had recently walked in search of family members. The widow meets an old man on the beach and joins him and others from the island of Carriacou for an annual pilgramage to Carriacou. I continually give this book to family members and buy it back into my library. See if you like it. ( )
  tobagotim | Oct 9, 2009 |
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With a strength born of the decision that had just come to her in the middle of the night, Avey Johnson forced the suitcase shut on the clothes piled inside and slid the lock in place.
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