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The True History of Paradise

Cezair-Thompson, Margaret

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ISBN 10: 0755347048 / ISBN 13: 9780755347049
Published by Headline Review
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
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2009. Paperback. The critically acclaimed, IMPAC shortlisted debut novel from the author of THE PIRATE'S DAUGHTER - published for the first time in the UK. Num Pages: 448 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 130 x 29. Weight in Grams: 318. Good clean copy with light age wear. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # KCD0017990

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Title: The True History of Paradise

Publisher: Headline Review

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Very Good

About this title


Easter 1981. With Jamaica in a state of emergency, the Landing family gathers to bury one of its own. For Monica Landing, who had not spoken to her daughter in fifteen years, the death of Lana is the cruellest kind of loss. For Lana's younger sister, Jean, it is an incomprehensible tragedy. Her beloved homeland holds no future for her now, but flight means crossing a landscape where armed gangs rule. In this time of apocalypse, past and present merge in Jean's remembrances of childhood and the guiding voices of her ancestors that tell of hardship and struggle, love and survival...


It's 1981 and Jean Landing is about to flee her disintegrating homeland, Jamaica, but first, she must bury her sister. Lana, a pop singer in the early days of Reggae, has immolated herself in a moment of madness and must be buried immediately "because, as someone explains to Jean, burned bodies decompose quickly." The funeral takes place in the morning; that afternoon, Jean is on her way across the mountains to a rendezvous with a private plane that will take her to the States. Accompanied by her childhood friend, Paul, she drives across her island nation, noting the increasingly violent confrontations between political factions even as she retreats into memories of her own fractured past:

Ghosts stand on the foothills of this journey. She smells their woody ancestral breath in the land's familiar crests and undulations. She has heard them all her life, these obstinate spirits, desperate to speak, to revise the broken grammar of their exits. They speak to her, Jean Landing, born in that audient hour before daylight broke on the nation, born into the knowledge of nation and prenation, the old noises of barracks, slave quarters, and steerage mingling in her ears with the newest sounds of self-rule. On verandas, in kitchens, in the old talk, in her waking reveries and anxious dreams, she has heard their stories.
From her own mother, the light-skinned, "selfish and adamant" Monica, sister Lana, and deceased father, the black nationalist Roy Landing, to her white ancestor Rebecca Crawford, they are all here, sometimes in Jean's memory, other times telling their stories in their own voices. It's a complicated weave of story lines and voices, but Margaret Cezair-Thompson carries it off with aplomb. The True History of Paradise explores both the political and the personal as Jean's childhood remembrances play out against the war-torn landscape of Jamaica. Near the end of the novel Jean reflects, "To leave one's country. It is not a complete sentence, a complete anything. Its infinitive possibilities leap from loss to promise and back again from promise to loss." This promising first novel makes those leaps with nary a stumble. --Margaret Prior

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