Tag Archives: Lalita Tademy

Cane River / Red River

Last night my book club met to discuss Cane River which I reviewed here. Although I appreciated the content, and the amount of research that went into it, I wasn’t impressed with the writing. I know that Tademy left the corporate world to work on this book, but it just didn’t grab me and I wanted it to, because I was interested in the women and their outcomes.

With that said, about half the group agreed that the writing could have been better, but overall they had many good things to say about the book and there was plenty to discuss. It was interesting, because many of the members felt that a little more of the male “voice” would have rounded it out a bit. I did not think that while reading it but perhaps that is what I was looking for. It was an interesting comment.

During the discussion, one of the members mentioned Tademy’s second book Red River. Red River tells the story of two different families and from the map I looked at, Red River is right next to Cane River. I wasn’t aware of this second book. Has anyone read it? So many of you liked Cane River, perhaps you’d be interested in Red River.

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Review: Cane River

My book group chose Cane River by Lalita Tademy for our January book. This book came out quite a few years ago (2001) and I remember hearing a lot about it when it first came out. Especially since it was an Oprah Book Club pick at one point.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Lalita Tademy’s riveting family saga chronicles four generations of women born into slavery along the Cane River in Louisiana. It is also a tale about the blurring of racial boundaries: great-grandmother Elisabeth notices an unmistakable “bleaching of the line” as first her daughter Suzette, then her granddaughter Philomene, and finally her great-granddaughter Emily choose (or are forcibly persuaded) to bear the illegitimate offspring of the area’s white French planters.

The book is split into three parts, each part belonging to one of the daughters (Suzette, Philomene and Emily). I felt that this format worked well for the story. The family trees at the beginning of each section along with family photos also helped piece things together. However, my head hurt by the end of this book. I know this book is based on fact and that Tademy put a lot of research into it, but it was just one pregnancy after another followed by sickness and the loss of a loved one.

Weighing in at over four hundred pages, the cycle of life and death became almost too much to bear. I ended up skimming the last quarter of the book and to be honest with you, I don’t think I missed anything. It will be interesting to hear what my book group thinks of it next week.