Blessed Is the Fruit: A Novel

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9780805049251: Blessed Is the Fruit: A Novel

Lilla is the white mistress of a once grand but now now rotting colonial mansion and Vel, her black servant. The two West Indian women, both 33 years of age, have lived in the same house for 10 years, but it is not until Lilla rescues Vel from a near-fatal abortion attempt, that the two really get to know each other. Young Trinidadian author Robert Antoni weaves a brightly colored tapestry of life in the Caribbeana remarkable tale of family, myth, religionand language.

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Review:

Acclaimed Trinidadian writer Robert Antoni's second novel tells the life stories of two West Indian women: Lilla, the white mistress of a dilapidated colonial mansion, and Vel, the longtime black servant who lives with her. The two women have always kept an emotional distance by the accidents of their birth, but when Vel finds herself pregnant, Lilla puts her to bed in her own bedroom. Writing lyrically and convincingly in the voices of the two women themselves, Antoni lets them tell their life stories--a heady mixture of sex, religion, myth, and the musicality of their own inner languages. Antoni's first novel, Divina Trace won the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

From Kirkus Reviews:

In Caribbean writer Antoni's second novel (after Divina Trace, 1992), drenched to soddenness with lush language and symbolism, two women--one black, one white--tell their melodramatic life stories to an unborn child. As black maid Vel lies on her employer's bed recovering from a failed abortion done with a pair of scissors, Lilla Grandsol, her white mistress, is stirred to recall moments in her own life. Recollecting first how Vel came to work for her, as well as Vel's prior attempts to abort this mysterious pregnancy, she then goes on to address her story to Bolom, Vel's unborn child. The only daughter of an Englishman and the Creole heiress of the estate she's now living on, Lilla remembers how her happiest times as a child were spent with Dulcianne, the daughter of the black family housekeeper. A lonely child with a pious, alcoholic mother and a father who philandered, Lilla was raised as a Catholic by her mother. But as she grew older, she discovered that she enjoyed intense pleasure masturbating while simultaneously telling her beads. These tensions between religion and sex get her into trouble when she's sent to a convent school. Her mother dies, her father disappears, and Lilla marries Keith, a.k.a. ``Daisy,'' a British architect. While the two are the greatest of friends, their sex life is troubling, and Lilla's husband, realizing he's gay, flees to England with his male lover. Like a Caribbean Miss Havisham, Lilla locks herself into her decaying mansion with a golden key and, except for outings with Vel to buy groceries with their dwindling funds, stays home. Thirty-three, like Lilla, Vel has had a far more hardscrabble existence: early pregnancies, children lost to disease, and a feckless husband. But she is devoted to Lilla. And in her side of the story she reveals how far she's gone to ensure that the two women can stay together in their mouldy bolt- hole. Caribbean gothic with literary pretensions. -- Copyright 1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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