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Cane River (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – Bargain Price, 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.
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
Read this book a long time ago I moved to Louisiana in 2011 and didn't really understand the culture. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Monica Siegel
This was a story that could be my story or your story. A story of strong black women and the tough choices they made then. Read morePublished 23 days ago by WIP (work in progress)
An excellent account of a black families struggle to improve their lives during and after the Civil War in Cane River Louisiana.Published 1 month ago by Thomas Mowbray
I love this book; it is the second time I've read it. Ms. Tademy is an excellent storyteller, making the characters come to life with factual accounts and the actual copies of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by dfischer
I enjoyed the book. Good insight into the pre and post emancipation era. And what it meant to "whiten" the African American race from both a white and black perspective. Read morePublished 1 month ago by margaret
I love this piece of historical fiction. I learned so much more about the plight of black women and men before the Civil War and just after. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kathryn Hanlon
Very good, great strong women. I loved the generations living together.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A lot of characters to remember. Otherwise a good book hope to hear more from my book club about how they liked itPublished 1 month ago by Kathy