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The Wedding by Dorothy West
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The Wedding

by Dorothy West

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Engrossing and fascinating multi-generational tale of an African-American family whose current incarnation is well-off and summering on the Vineyard. It's a study of African-American migration and social assimilation as well as a series of moving character studies. I found the ending anti-climactic. Otherwise it's well worth your time as a well-wrought important American novel. ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Mar 4, 2014 |
I think it is an important book because it gives insight to Black America's psychological view of itself before the Civil Rights Act. I read the book about 10 years ago and was somewhat disturbed by the way Blacks viewed beauty back when The Wedding was set. I just remember being thankful that my mother was dark and considered beautiful. The fact that I and others found my dark mother so attractive made me totally oblivious to any issues about skin tone when I was growing up. By the time I heard of this type of thinking, it was mercifully too late for me to be scarred. ( )
  ShavonJones | Nov 12, 2012 |
Well-written novel by African American writer about the African American middle class, mostly set in the insular community they summered in on Martha's Vineyard in the 1950's. Focus on 5 generations of two families and how they were connected through their descendants. Big focus on degree of color of one's blackness, and one's preference for a particular shade of black OR prefer whites to blacks as a partner. Enjoyed the book overall. But as the end zeroed in on Shelby and Lute, the author did not explain enough about Lute and his interaction (and attraction) with Shelby until the last pages. I found the end of the story left me unsatisfied. Feels like an unfinished book. ( )
  bogopea | May 25, 2012 |
Dorothy West was one the last surviving of members of the Harlem Renaissance during which she published the magazines, Challenge and New Challenge. The Wedding first published in 1995 is a fascinating and beautifully written look at the privileged, but tiny, African-American community on Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s. Shelby Coles, the youngest daughter of Corinne and Clark Coles, a NYC physician, is about to marry Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician. As the wedding nears, the history of the family, descended from slaves and slave-owners, unfolds and a complication arises. Lute McNeil, a furniture craftsman, has rented one of the houses in the Oval neighborhood with his three motherless daughters, and he is determined to marry Shelby himself.

It's illuminating how weddings bring out deep-seated cultural values and mores. It makes me want to go back and reread Eudora Welty's Delta Wedding and Carson McCuller's The Member of the Wedding. ( )
3 vote janeajones | May 9, 2010 |
25 Dec 2009 - gift from fellow LibraryThing Viragoite Belva

A short novel, published in 1995 by an author I associated with an earlier era, this is a fascinating and involving exposition of history, race and class though 19th and 20th century America. Opening in a community of the black bourgeousie in 1950s Martha's Vineyard, we are soon tracing back the lineages of the main family through black and white, lower and upper classes, back to freed slaves and poverty-stricken workers. Women are raised to prize their light colour, then castigated if they choose a black or a white husband. Innocent and beautifully-drawn children suffer the expectations and assumptions of their elders, to often tragic effect.

Both meditative and full of action and character, this is an important book that can teach us all something, even if we think we already know about the histories and issues involved. ( )
2 vote LyzzyBee | Mar 20, 2010 |
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Epigraph
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. --I Corinthians 13:4-7
Dedication
To the memory of my editor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Though there was never such a mismatched pair in appearance, we were perfect partners.
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On a morning in later August, the morning before the wedding, the sun rising out of the quiet sea stirred the Oval from its shapeless sleep and gave dimension and design to the ring of summer cottages.
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VIRAGO EDITION:
Set on the Elysian isle of Martha's Vineyard, among an insular community of proud and prosperous black families, Dorothy West's first novel for nearly fifty years centres aroung the marriage of Shelby Coles, daughter of the community's foremost family, to a struggling white jazz musician.
Not just the story of one wedding, but of many, this thought-provoking and deeply involving novel offers insights into issues of race, prejudice and identity while maintaining its firm belief in the compensatory power of love.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385471440, Paperback)

While younger writers obsess over the need to show rather than tell, the octogenarian West simply grabs you by the lapels and drags you headlong through a multigenerational saga of affluent, Martha's Vineyard blacks who are so fair in complexion that they're almost white. And she does it all in something like 225 pages, sounding very much like Faulkner even when she's over the top, which is only now and then. You won't mind, because there is greatness here as well as gripping storytelling.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:24 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In the 1950s, a girl from the black bourgeoisie in Martha's Vineyard announces her engagement to a white musician. The novel follows the impact this has on her family and the community around them. By the author of The Living Is Easy.

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