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Jenniemae & James: A Memoir in Black and…

Jenniemae & James: A Memoir in Black and White

by Brooke Newman

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514229,653 (3.3)4
  1. 00
    The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (DetailMuse)
    DetailMuse: Both books involve a mathematician, his housekeeper, and a child.
  2. 00
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (DetailMuse)
    DetailMuse: Black domestics in white households in civil rights-era USA.

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Not sure why the title is "Jenniemae & James" when most of the book is about James, somewhat about Ruth (author's mother), and even less about Jenniemae.

Pages and pages of dialogue from conversations that occurred 50 years ago, that the author admits are recreated from her imagination. Long excerpts from all sorts of things her father wrote - letters to the editor, books, speeches, etc.

Author didn't seem to have much insight into her parents, Jenniemae, or herself. Book is filled with rambling passages of redundant sentiments that didn't illuminate anything particularly interesting. ( )
  fiadhiglas | Feb 16, 2012 |
memoir of the daughter of james r newman growing up with her father. He was difficult in many ways. He developed a friendship with Jenniemae the cleaning lady. ( )
  pnorman4345 | Nov 28, 2011 |
Disappointing memoir in that I was expecting more about the inter-relationship between the two. However, author (daughter) creates a political timeline of the country as she tells the story of the housekeeper and her father, as well as her mother. Very little said about brother.
Interesting to see relationship develop between Jenniemae and James and how important they were in each other's life. ( )
  bogopea | Oct 13, 2011 |
Jenniemae and James is Brooke Newman’s homage to the civil rights-era friendship between her Jewish father, James Newman (mathematician, renowned author, and coiner of "googol" aka "google"), and their African-American housekeeper, Jenniemae Harrington (whose interest in numbers involved an underground lottery).

It’s also a memoir of Brooke’s childhood household in Washington DC with her older brother; their beautiful but psychologically unstable mother, Ruth; the brilliant, moody and philandering James (whose lovers sometimes lived in the house and became friends with Ruth); and the stabilizing influence of Jenniemae, the sixth of twelve children born to Alabama sharecroppers.

The narrative is rose-colored, uneven and repetitive, and an Author’s Note acknowledges the (necessarily) imagined nature of the dialogue from Brooke’s childhood. But readers who put that aside will be satisfied by its passages about James’s work (including his colleague, Dr. Einstein), cold-war politics, race relations … and its real-life, The Help-like premise.

(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.) ( )
1 vote DetailMuse | May 18, 2010 |
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Recreating the early Civil Rights era, Newman's memoir is a pitch-perfect account of the improbable friendship that developed between mathematician James Newman, friend of Albert Einstein and father of two, and his employee Jenniemae--an illiterate, numbers-savvy maid whom James recruited to take care of his affluent Washington, D.C., home.… (more)

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