From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island

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9780061337550: From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island

"Throughout her life my mother [Doris] lived in two places at once: Kingston, Jamaica, where she raised a family of nine children, and Harvey River, in the parish of Hanover, where she was born and grew up."

In the tradition of Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family and Carlos Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana comes Lorna Goodison's luminous memoir of her forebears—From Harvey River. When Doris' English grandfather, William Harvey, discovers a clearing at the end of a path cut by the feet of those running from slavery, he gives his name to what will become his family's home for generations. For Doris, Harvey River is the place she always called home, the place where she was one of the "fabulous Harvey girls" and where the rich local bounty of the land went hand in hand with the Victorian niceties and comforts of her parents' house. It is a place she will return to in dreams when her fortunes change, years later, and she and her husband, Marcus Goodison, relocate to "hard life" Kingston and encounter the harsh realities of urban living in close quarters as they raise their family of nine children.

In lush prose, Lorna Goodison weaves memory and island lore to create a vivid, universally appealing tapestry.

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About the Author:

Lorna Goodison is an internationally recognized poet who has published eight books of poetry and two collections of short stories. In 1999 she received the Musgrave Gold Medal from Jamaica, and her work has been widely translated and anthologized in major collections of contemporary poetry. Born in Jamaica, Goodison now teaches at the University of Michigan. She divides her time between Ann Arbor and Toronto.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Goodison, an acclaimed poet who received Jamaica's Musgrave Gold Medal in 1999, makes lyrical exposition sing with dulcet island patois in this homage to her mother, Doris, who grew up in the sleepy Eden-like setting of Harvey River, but raised her own nine children in urban Kingston under less coddled conditions. Starting on a supernal note, in which Doris bequeaths this book to her daughter in a dream, the memoir draws a richly textured portrait of a sprawling, well-to-do family, including seven strong-willed siblings with deftly sketched personas. As plump and pretty as a ripe ox-heart tomato, Doris—whose Anglo-African blood attests to Jamaica's history of interracial dalliance—joins her sisters in the clique of fabulous Harvey girls, their surnames trumpeting the family's landed-gentry status. But it's a working-class chauffeur—the author's father—who wins Doris's hand in marriage. Borne away from her childhood idyll, she takes in her first moving picture, produces a succession of offspring and plies her domestic skills, especially sewing, gamely weathering the vicissitudes of life outside paradise. Steeped in local lore and spiced with infectious dialect and ditties, Goodison's memoir reaches back over generations to evoke the mythic power of childhood, the magnetic tug of home and the friction between desire and duty that gives life its unexpected jolts. (Mar.)
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