I heard this book being discussed in an on-line book festival and it sounded fascinating. (...so I guess on-line festivals do work for disseminating new titles.)
The premise of the book appealed to me: one father with two wives and two similarly aged daughters, only one of whom was aware the other existed. The families are both coloured, which is topical right now, although the current movement had not started when my book group made the book choice.
The first half of the book is narrated by Dana. She knows she has a sister and that her father spends most of the week with his 'other' family. She and her mother go spying on Chaurisse and her mother and accept that they are the secret family. They live in the same town but cannot attend the same school - and Chaurisse always get first pick.
The second half is narrated by Chaurisse, who eventually meets up with Dana and is impressed by her beauty and confidence, but mystified by her secrecy.
Although things are obviously going to come to a head eventually, I thought the run-up to this was quite slow. There is a lot of back-story, covering both families and several sets of grandparents; it's not a book that you can easily put down and come back to.
Having recently finished An American Marriage by the same author, I wasn't so impressed with the ending of Silver Sparrow. I gave An American Marriage 4 stars, but the disappointing ending dropped Silver Sparrow to 3.5 for me.
Todays challenge: Adaptation Aspirations
An American Marriage recently won the woman’s prize for fiction, a story surrounding a couple and what happens to their marriage when the man is put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
The narrative is split into three, with the most time being given to the husband (Roy) and his wife (Celestial). The third narrative stream is that of Celestial's best friend, Andre. I think this worked, although I didn’t see it as wholly necessary that we have Andre’s perspective. It didn’t add a huge amount to the novel and I didn’t find his voice very distinctive. His perspective was sometimes interesting, though and his own portions in the book were minimal.
The disintegration of a marriage was the real star of this book. It didn’t happen quickly, but was gradually fed to the reader making it very believable. I found both Celestial and Roy very authentic and could almost feel Roy’s frustration at being locked away and unable to actively participate in events that were impacting his life.
What I really liked about this book is the unapologetic way it handled itself. Celestial made choices I completely disagreed with, but I could still empathize with her. This shows a real skill the author has in forming characters. Roy was fantastically portrayed as well. I sensed the change in him after his time in prison. It would have been unrealistic to have him as the same man when he came out of prison as when he went in, but this didn’t happen. He was different in subtle ways and I could understand Celestial’s apprehension towards him.
A deft character study concerning a topic that needs more attention. I highly recommend it.