I read this book because of the good reviews but, to be honest, I was disappointed. Despite the promising material about the life of a black woman forty years after the end of slavery, the writing, in my opinion, is uninspired. One example: a â€œwhite vase regurgitating a rainbow of flowersâ€�. I mightâ€™ve thought this was written for middle-school students if it wasnâ€™t for the sex. But there is a fair amount of sex, both straight and gay. The main character, Easter, has a tendency to fall in love and/or in bed at first sight so the book is a record of her rash love affairs and their consequences, as well as some of her work experiences.
To me, some of the writing was offensive and stereotypical (â€œAn unmistakable musk wafted off Miss Anthony's body; you only had to be with one black man to know that scent and Miss Anthony reeked of it.â€�)
Some of the writing was sensationalistic and gratuitous. For example, the butler is a very minor character; I'm not sure he's ever even given any dialogue. And yet the author has Easter accidentally interrupting the butler in his room â€œstanding before a full length mirror, naked save for the expensive nylons and garter belt he wore.â€� Why throw that in? It seemed gratuitous to me. Other passages offended me because they described serious situations such as domestic violence in an almost slapstick manner.
Easter is said to have become a writer of poems, short stories, essays and a novel and yet rarely is there a passage where she's actually doing writing. We are not given the opportunity to read her work. Her life as a writer is not given anything near the space the author gives to Easter's sexual desires or work life.
Near the end of the book there's a sort of list of what Easter did after she left NYC but the author didn't let us experience those events with Easter; we were just given her resume, in effect. Readers aren't given the opportunity to truly understand what happened to bring Easter back to her racist hometown and back to the old ways black women made money in the South in the early 1900s working in white people's houses, cooking their food, cleaning up their messes, and rearing their white children. And yet that era of her life is given 15 chapters while her life as a writer is given short shrift. Some reviewers have lauded the scenes about the Harlem Renaissance but in my opinion,
the mentions of the Harlem Renaissance weren't much more than name-dropping. I didn't learn anything I didn't already know about the Harlem Renaissance era from this book.