Coup de Coeur
In 1837, an ailing Elizabeth Barrett is confined to bed, suffering debilitating illness. Longing for a return to mobility, she corresponds with friends, endures uncomfortable remedies, writes poetry and frets over her father and siblings. On the Barrett estate in Jamaica a Creole maidservant named Kaydia is struggling to save her child from the abusive attentions of the master. In the cane fields, indentured labourer and former slave Sheba mourns the loss of her lover.
Moving from Torquay in Devon to Cinnamon Hill in Jamaica, Strange Music explores the notion that history consists of multiple, even contradictory, notions. Kaydia and Sheba narrate their stories in a distinctive patois. Like Jamaica, they struggle to escape a tragic past that seems ever present. Elizabeth is geographically and emotionally distant, at once consumed with domestic minutiae and, as she matures as a writer, painfully aware of the source of her wealth and privilege.
Orange Prize for Fiction 2009 (Longlist)
While Elizabeth Barrett Browning is confined to bed, chafing against the restriction of her doctors and writing poetry and fretful letters, at her family's Jamaican estate Kaydia, the Creole housekeeper tries to protect her daughter from their predatory master and a recently freed black slave, Sheba, mourns the loss of her lover.
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