Book Beginnings

Trying a new meme todaynight. Gotta mix it up, right?

This one is Rose City Reader’s Book Beginnings Meme. #BookBeginnings

So here’s the beginning of one of the books I’m reading.

black rose

“No one had seen a car like it.

Delta was not a rich town, mostly an assemblage of weather-beaten country stores, banks, and feed shops beneath faded, hand-painted signs. Residents sat on barrels in the shade and engaged in their cheapest town entertainment, which was watching the episodes of the day: a hitched horse trying to rear up, the parade of cotton growers’ wagons on their way to market, or a motorcar owner cursing in the middle of the street, working up a sweat as he cranked ferociously, trying to coax the engine of his stalled Tin Lizzie back to life.”

– from The Black Rose by Tananarive Due, who takes on a formidable task of writing the life of first female African American millionaire Madame CJ Walker based on research and writing from another great writer Alex Haley (yes, Roots and Autobiography of Malcolm X Alex Haley). It is, I would say, a hybrid of biography and historical fiction (which incidentally is the genre challenge for this year’s Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge, the award ceremony of which takes place this Saturday 21st April 2018 at the Best of Books Bookstore on St. Mary’s Street, for any interested Antiguans and Barbudans reading this). Madame CJ Walker made her millions off of revolutionizing hair products for black women. I remember first reading about her in Ebony or Essence back in the day; she doesn’t seem to exist in other media.

I was psyched to come across this book on a friend’s bookshelf. It’s well written though the pace feels a bit plodding at times, but the main character’s journey is interesting and I only wish I had time to settle in to it because for the most part it’s good reading. The opener is a perfect example of this as it allows the main character a dramatic entrance, her flashiness contrasting with the sleepy stillness of the town she is about to drive in to. Due does a really good job of setting the scene vis-à-vis the moments, both pivotal and small, in the life of the girl named Sarah who would become the iconic Madame C J Walker. For the millionth time, Hollywood, listen up #tellmorestories #diversitymatters

I’m also cross posting this to The Friday 56, another meme in which you post something from page 56 of the book. #Friday56 So…

‘”See there?” Miss Brown thrust a hand mirror at her, and suddenly Sarah was staring at herself face-to-face. She saw her shame-reddened eyes, her face that looked older than she remembered, and finally, the white bows Miss Brown had tied in her hair. Although her heart was still smarting, Sarah saw herself begin to smile.’



15 thoughts on “Book Beginnings

    • Well, I haven’t gotten to the fun part yet. With parents who were born in slavery and died leaving her while still a child to make it in a world that was not kind to black people or women…or children (literally no protections), she had a lot to overcome…I am looking forward to discovering how she got from that to being in the money.

    • It is based on Madame C J Walker who was the first female African-American millionaire. So it’s true but it’s like a novel in the sense that it uses the research to recreate her life (think of it as a novel based on the life of Madame C J Walker). The research seems to be solid though, but it reads like a novel.

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