Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Meeting of 28 June 2010

Shirley, Janet, Jane, Beth, Colette and Jolene met at Colette's house to discuss The Book of Negroes, Shirley's choice this year. Colette served great hors d'oeuvres, with a little help from her husband, a gourmet cook.

Author Lawrence Hill was born in Toronto in 1957 and is from a famous Canadian family. His father Daniel Hill, Sr., was Ombudsman, and Dan Hill, Jr., is a well-known singer. Lawrence Hill has won many awards, including one for this book. He still lives in Hamilton, Ontario. A recent CAA magazine quotes him as saying that he once met with the Queen (a most unpretentious lady) and her corgis and found himself in the ironic position of telling Her Majesty about British archives and history. Mr. Hill has written other books, including Any Known Blood, set a little later, during the time of the Underground Railway, and told from a male point-of-view.

Shirley pointed out that the cover of our novel in Canada is from the actual Book of Negroes. In the US, the novel goes by the title Someone Knows My Name. It depicts slavery in the 1700's through the eyes of Aminata, and shows the different reactions of slaves to the same circumstances. Hill found himself relating Aminata with his own 11-year-old daughter Genevieve Aminata Hill.

Our group unanimously liked the book, for many reasons: the fact that historical figures like Wilberforce appear in this novel; the way Hill was able to tell the story from a female viewpoint so well; the tragic irony of seeing a ‘baby-catcher’ have her own baby stolen; and the strength shown by Aminata. One theme that emerged was how people in desperate circumstances come to realize their limitations but do what they can.

Next meeting will be September 27 at Shirley's, discussing Ian Brown's The Boy in the Moon, Jane's choice.

The October meeting will be at Colette's, discussing The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees, Carla's choice.

Have a great summer!

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