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Cane River (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – April 1, 2002
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The author makes it clear exactly where these prohibitions came from. Plantation society was rigidly hierarchical, after all, particularly on the heels of the Civil War and the economic hardships that came with Reconstruction. The only permissible path upward for hard-working, ambitious African Americans was indirect. A meteoric rise, or too obvious an appearance of prosperity, would be swiftly punished. To enable the slow but steady advance of their clan, the black women of Cane River plot, plead, deceive, and manipulate their way through history, extracting crucial gifts of money and property along the way. In the wake of a visit from the 1880 census taker, the aged Elisabeth reflects on how far they had come.
When the census taker looked at them, he saw colored first, asking questions like single or married, trying to introduce shame where there was none. He took what he saw and foolishly put those things down on a list for others to study. Could he even understand the pride in being able to say that Emily could read and write? They could ask whatever they wanted, but what he should have been marking in the book was family, and landholder, and educated, each generation gathering momentum, adding something special to the brew.In her introduction, Tademy explains that as a young woman, she failed to appreciate the love and reverence with which her mother and her four uncles spoke of their lively Grandma 'Tite (short for "Mademoiselle Petite"). She resented her great-grandmother's skin-color biases, which were as much a part of Tademy's memory as were her great-grandmother's trademark dance moves. But the old stories haunted the author, and armed with a couple of pages of history compiled by a distant Louisiana cousin, she began to piece together a genealogy. The result? Tademy eventually left her position as vice president of a Fortune 500 company and set to work on Cane River, in which she has deftly and movingly reconstructed the world of her ancestors. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
We are introduced to the matriarch of the family Elisabeth, a slave from Virginia sold into a new plantation and taken from her husband and children. Here begins the story of the Cane River women, Suzette, Philomene and Emily. I was compelled to read every detail of their lives from slavery to freedom. I shared their heartbreak, joy, suffering and triumph, on the journey to freedom. The book paints a long lasting impression of the power of love and family. A book I will think of for a long time to come. I highly recommend you read this unforgettable book.
Although written as fiction, the documents, family histories and pictures give not-so-silent tribute to this REAL family, and their very real experiences. I found myself pouring over the pictures, flipping back frequently to put a face with a name, and thinking the whole time "It's like Lalita Tademy sat down and talked with her ancestors!"
I would love to see this book hit the "required reading" lists of high schools. It's a lesson in so many things, not the least of which is the author's tenacious search for details, documentation and something else...something hard to define...but it's almost like she slipped into a time machine and brought back the past for us. I can't wait for her next book! I feel like I've learned a more valuable lesson than any text book could have taught. I learned instead from Elisabeth, Philomene, and Emily.
Elizabeth prepared a foundation for a standard of living that was molded and built upon by her daughter Suzette, harnessed and secured by her granddaughter Philomene, so that her great-granddaughter Emily could stand taller than those before her could ever dream.
The journey from Elizabeth to Emily is one that leaves the reader with an appreciation for humanity like never before. Their daily struggles will enlighten you, the many injustices visited upon them by white people will anger you, and their perseverance will inspire you. This journey along CANE RIVER is arguably one of the best reads of the 20th century!
The trials and tribulations set out in "Cane River" are enough to make one forever thankful they were born in the current generation and not in an earlier one. Freedom is by far the greatest human right we have. To be born into slavery with the humiliation, degradation, poverty and dehumanizing conditions that went with it are almost unthinkable in today's society, although it still exists to a certain degree (legal or illegal) in parts of the world today.
"Cane River" spans four generations and through the eyes of Lalita Tademy, we are able to trace the stories of four women and witness how their lives are interwoven. We read with anticipation how Elisabeth, Suzette,Philomeme and Emily build their lives in a time few people who live today can truly understand. Lalita Tademy has written an extremely emotional and poignant saga of an era they is portrayed today through books and film. As a person who is "white", though not American, it absolutely appals me that my "white ancestors," regardless of what country they came from, could treat any human being as a slave and force them to live a life as portrayed in this book. However, the Holocaust, is also equally as horrendous and beyond comprehension, too - but it happened!
Our history and our heritage are very important.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Informative book on the lives of slaves and the things they had to do to survive such a system. Nothing terribly new, however. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Jackie
Sometimes you read a book and you know that you will never be the same person when that last page ends. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Glenna Auxier
This was a great story about people of color back in the in the 1800's. It's been bout a year since I've read it and don't remember clearly what time in history this was. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Ellen Marie
If you like genealogy you will like this book as it traces 5 generations of black women.Published 22 days ago by Cynthia J. Gard
My mom's favorite book so I ordered two for her to give as gifts!Published 1 month ago by Caitlin Schulze
I'm no literary critic; I bought this book because it was about people of my background, Creoles. Overall I found the story to be somewhat depressing, but then, perhaps that time... Read morePublished 2 months ago by PW
Loved it! I highly recommend it. The author did a wonderful job of weaving her factual family history into this beautiful fictional story.Published 2 months ago by connie