Belletrista Blog

Before I started this focus on reading Caribbean authors, I’d never heard of Guadeloupe writer Maryse Condé. I’m so glad I’ve found her!

The Story of the Cannibal Woman, is a moving exploration of race, relationships, secrets and grief. Rosélie’s long-term partner, Stephen, is brutally murdered near their Cape Town home. Over the next few months Rosélie re-examines her life and her relationship with Stephen. I found her to be a sad and lonely woman searching for her place in the world. Through her grief she develops an affinity with Fiela, a woman she doesn’t know who is standing trial for the murder of her husband, feeling that there is some kind of link between their situations.

Perhaps Rosélie feels she should have had the courage to act as Fiela did.  As the novel progresses Rosélie starts to discover hidden aspects of Stephen’s character and questions why did she love him. Stephen doesn’t come out well from this story. A white English academic, he seems to enjoy the shock value of having a black partner. He’s arrogant and and Rosélie allows him to dominate her, even feeling proud of his provocative pronouncements on race.  I think she is overwhelmed by his sureness and him being so different from herself. I really identified with Rosélie and was often shouting ‘just leave him’ in my head, knowing that this relationship would crush her spirit.

Condé’s writing certainly affected me and I will be looking out for more of her work.

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