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Helena's story is a discovery of the Caribbean way of living, thinking, and behaving far from the idyllic life of the postcard tropical sunsets and fine sandy beaches. Under the shadow of La Soufrière, people are suffering and fighting to keep themselves alive. To some extent Helena is as bubbling as the volcano that shakes the island.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/cRKVs 1066 views
|2 publishers interested|
In 1976 La Soufrière volcano erupted in Guadeloupe. This event is the backstory of A Woman in Turmoil. Helena is a rather atypical Caribbean mother. She does not talk much, and so we learn things through her different thoughts. She has an only son which is exceedingly rare for the West Indies. As a housewife, she never thought she would return to work one day. Her alcoholic husband died leaving her in great need to take care of herself and her son; she is confronted with lots of adventures sometimes tragic.
As the story develops the reader begins to realise the connection between the volcano and Helena. Keeping silent gives her the power to assess different situations. She controls her anger, frustration and pain using humour and self-criticism.
A Woman in Turmoil is not merely the story of a woman trying to fight her way through society. Helena is more than that; she embodies the reality of living in the tropics from a sociological as well as a political aspect.
The book is divided into 3 chapters: Eruption- Rebirth- Uprooting. The following extracts give an idea of the unfolding drama.
Chapter 1 - Eruption
[...]At her husband’s death, she gave up marrying again. A drunk, she said, who was good for nothing, plain, and whose death she had predicted, his head down in the gutter.
Her predictions turned out to be true, when one morning she was told that following a quarrel in a cockpit, he had been stabbed and left lying like a dog in a stream, bleeding to death. The money he was reluctant to give Helena and that he wasted so liberally finally got the better of him.
Helena’s heart was as hard as a rock. Over the years, she had been submitted to all sorts of maliciousness from that husband who was good for nothing except bringing her trouble. She welcomed the news like a believer opens his mouth to receive the holy bread on Sunday at the altar. Like a kid following his master with a pot of salt.
Helena yelled, then rolled her eyes, and as they were getting ready to hold her, thinking the news had shaken her like you shake a star apple tree from head to bottom, as they thought she was going to start running in the courtyard like a hen brooding her chicks that had been disturbed, as they were about to apply Bay rum on her head or to give her smelling salts for fear of something bad happening to her, and as the neighbors, moved, their heads turned into burnt savannah by the wind, were running to the rescue yelling she had to be held, she fell on her knees and said:
- “ Mèci bondié misérabe la allé.” (Thank God the wretched man is finally gone).
From then on, one knew that nothing could sadden this woman, whose heart at the news of the death of someone close had remained as hard as a yellowish “tuff” volcanic rock, heart that neither a chisel or hammerhead nor jackhammer could pierce. But she hadn’t always been so. Life, by knocking her over and over again, had made her bitter and tough.
The funeral was even more outlandish than the announcement of the death. Helena didn’t shed a single tear and organized a big banquet that turned into a mock community party barbecue rather than awake.
Rum flowed like water. [...]
Chapter 2 -Rebirth
The volcano rumbled and the earth shook
The wind blew and the house capsized
The clouds blackened and cried all night
The streams swelled, the river overflowed
Carrying me here and there through the currents
By crushing fragile branches
Making me twirl with rage and fury
Without branches or twigs, the foam suffocates me
The sharp blades between sky and earth
Angry drums smash my ears
Blue razors cut the sky
Without branches or twigs, I drift in a spiral
The gates of eternity have just opened
I hover, I swim like the first nine months
In the mother's womb
In the sky, circles of black messenger birds
And, my mother, the sea welcomes me within her
Mommy, Mommy, I found you
Chapter 3 - Uprooting
When Helena entered this apartment, she immediately realized that no man was living there. There were no men's shoes at the entrance nor any shirts hanging from the windows. The place was ordered . She had not asked any question of her sister when she had been sent the letter announcing Tatiana's surprise birth. On the way from the airport to the house, she had noticed that she was talking about everything and nothing, reviving the past and omitting the present. So she refrained from asking her any questions. A large room divided in two, a kitchen with a small window. Helena noticed the cold and humidity in the toilet when she asked Esmeralda to go there. A small window with an opaque glass looked out onto a wall where two large pipes passed. The place was dark. The sun didn't seem to penetrate. The kitchen was well arranged.
She had surely done a thorough house cleaning to welcome her. In one corner of the room, an old cradle stood which she had unearthed at the flea market. Helena gazed around this room.
It was in places like this that some lived, hiding from their parents the harsh reality of life in the metropolis.
Outside, it was still raining. It had been hours since Helena had arrived and it was still raining. She approached the window. Everything was ugly in this infernal greyness that some described in letters as paradise, the escape. She didn't understand what attracted people to come here and endure such conditions.
The book should bring some elements for people interested in the French Carribean , there are very few books from those islands published in English so it is a good opportunity to embrace something new and to learn about more about the history
Euzhan Palcy wrote the introduction of my first book : La veranda
Born in Martinique, Euzhan Palcy is a film director, writer and producer. In 1983, she directed Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres) putting the French West Indies on cinema’s world stages. This critically acclaimed movie went on to win the prestigious Cesar award (French Academy Award) for best first film making Euzhan Palcy the first black director (male or female) to be granted this prestigious award. Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres) won more than 17 international awards including the Silver Lion and Best Actress awards at the Venice Film Festival.
Euzhan Palcy successfully brought back Marlon Brando to cinema screens with the anti-apartheid film, A Dry White Season. She travelled to South Africa defying the special section of the apartheid regime with the help of Dr. Nthato
Motlana, Nelson Mandela’s personal physician and friend, who smuggled her into Soweto undercover. She received the Orson Welles award for this film in Los Angeles in 1989.
After his historic release from Robben Island in 1990, the newly elected President Mandela watched the film and invited her to South Africa in 1995 (during the first anniversary of his election). Therefore, she directed and produced the never before seen interview titled My Chat with President Nelson Mandela. (https://www.euzhanpalcy.fr/)
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Children Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mind & Body, Mystery, Thriller, Horror & Suspense, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, YA Fiction, Biography & Memoir, Business & Money, Career & Success, Cookbooks, Food & Wine, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Journalism, Personal Growth & Self-Improvement, Politics & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Science, Society & Culture, Sports & Outdoors, Technology & the Future, Travel
Just to tell you that the translator is working on A woman in turmoil and as soon as it is done I will ...
Thank you for supporting A Woman in Turmoil. The campaign is over and I am in discussion with a publisher . As you probably know ...