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Tales from the Heart: True Stories from My Childhood Paperback – January 1, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With the clarity of Caribbean sunshine and no trace of nostalgia, novelist Maryse Condé recalls her youth in Guadeloupe and in Paris. As a retired civil servant and a schoolteacher, Condé's father and his much younger wife were entitled to regular paid vacations in the City of Light; as a child making her first trip in 1946, young Maryse was upset to see white waiters condescending to her well-educated parents, "as much French as they are." It was her first taste of the colonial contradictions that would increasingly trouble this intelligent, rebellious girl, born on a Mardi Gras afternoon to the rowdy beat of gwoka drums, an audible manifestation of the low-class island culture her parents disdained. Condé's 17 impressionistic autobiographical sketches cast a pointed glance over the racial hierarchy of Guadeloupe, but it's not a bitter book. Her parents were proud to be French but also proud to be examples of black achievement; they raised their daughter to excel, and she did, though perhaps not as they would have preferred. Condé is the first to appreciate the irony of discovering "the real Caribbean" as a student in a Parisian lycée, where she was encouraged by a communist teacher to give her class "a presentation of a book from your island." However you reach a sharper understanding of your origins and your place in the world, the important thing is the journey--a journey her memoir delineates in crisp, lucid language and a wealth of evocative physical and social detail. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Caribbean novelist Cond‚ (Windward Heights) discloses her complex childhood in her native Guadaloupe and in Paris, and celebrates imagination and youthful defiance in this short, heartfelt memoir. A surprise pregnancy and the youngest of eight children, Cond‚ was fearful that she "had not been desired." The young girl underwent a startling transformation from a shy, polite youngster to a problem child as she watched her Francophile parents turn their backs on all things non-Western and adopt a superior attitude toward neighbors. With a vivid memory for mood and details, Cond‚ recalls the moral decline of her older brother, Sandrino, her torturous days in grade school and painful incidents stemming from her parents' insensitivity, such as firing the faithful family servant, Madonne, when she took a day off to care for her gravely ill daughter, who later died. Cond‚'s other losses include the departure of Gilbert, her first love; the souring of her closest friendship; and the death of Mabo Julie, her family's beloved maid. She recollects a childhood boyfriend whose love letter, copied from a novel, rhapsodized inaccurately about her "blue eyes." While her astute portrait of her paranoid, class-conscious parents is unsparing, Cond‚ waxes poetic and nostalgic about her native country, offering an exciting travelogue that rivals anything in the glossies. Upon reaching the final page and the start of Cond‚'s journey to adulthood, readers will regret that this brief, colorful and lively remembrance has ended, although a second volume is promised and eagerly awaited.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569473471
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569473474
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,342,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had to read this for a class and thought it was going to be boring. Boy was I wrong. This is a wonderful memior. Recommend this book to everyone.
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I read this book recently in my book club -- its a beutiful memoir and a fast read too- Maryse manages to portray her story as best as she could from a child's perspective
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Format: Paperback
Easily one of the most vivid and moving memoirs I know. A terrific account of a life far removed from mine, written in a way at once perceptive, tender and detached. Remarkable.
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