“Leaves in a River” - Earl G. Long

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

IClau­dia Elei­box have to ad­mit, ini­tially I did not ex­pect this book to be so cap­ti­vat­ing but after the first few pages I was com­pletely en­grossed.

The story takes place in a lit­tle is­land, quite like Saint Lu­cia. Earl G. Long has flaw­lessly penned the life­lines of each char­ac­ter in the vil­lages and town, es­pe­cially that of “Ti Is­mene”.

Is­mene L’Aube is born to Bede and his wife, who dies dur­ing child­birth. Bede’s sis­ter then takes to car­ing for the girl and it is within this house­hold that Is­mene’s sex­ual ad­ven­tures be­gin. She is a witty, sassy and beau­ti­ful child and these traits help her win hearts and cause trou­ble wher­ever she goes.

Dur­ing Is­mene’s early teenage years, her fa­ther dies and she is left in the care of one of his friends: Charlo Pardie and his fam­ily. She lives with them for a few years ex­pe­ri­enc­ing farm days, storms, church vis­its, La Rose fes­ti­vals, in­fat­u­a­tion, un­for­get­table sex­ual en­coun­ters and one of the sons los­ing his mind. Even­tu­ally she leaves the house and moves to the city where the high­light and defin­ing mo­ments of the story lie. Is­mene lives one life dur­ing the day and a pro­mis­cu­ous one at night.

She later moves back to her fa­ther’s lit­tle house, which is right­fully hers. Is­mene’s life has com­pletely changed but the past con­tin­ues to live on in the mouths of oth­ers al­though you feel a lit­tle sym­pa­thy for her, de­spite her promis­cu­ity, as does ev­ery other char­ac­ter in the book. Is­mene con­tin­ues to live her life sim­ply and seem­ingly with­out an ounce of con­cern for other peo­ple’s thoughts.

Long’s novel is filled with so much ac­tiv­ity, so much drama and so much de­tail! His writ­ing is easy to com­pre­hend and fol­low, so that the story can be com­fort­ably ab­sorbed by your mind while ex­cit­ing you.

I was par­tic­u­larly amazed with how openly im­moral the themes were, but so sin­cere to lo­cal cul­ture, from the types of set­tle­ments, oc­cu­pa­tions, weather and fes­tiv­i­ties to how men so bla­tantly leave their wives for the com­pany of more in­ter­est­ing, younger women: “The news of Charlo’s where­abouts trav­eled as quickly as a cruel joke.”

The novel also cre­ates a vivid pic­ture of how cor­rupt and de­cep­tive some “high class” or “reli­gious” mem­bers of so­ci­ety can be: “She rec­og­nized two of her clients re­turn­ing from re­ceiv­ing com­mu­nion, their heads bowed in mas­sive piety over clasped hands. She was sur­prised at the sec­ond man, he was one of her best clients . . .”

And ac­com­pa­ny­ing these sober mes­sages is a lit­tle hu­mour and ev­ery­day is­land life ac­tiv­i­ties.

The de­tail in Long’s writ­ing re­minds of and makes one feel Saint Lu­cia as it drives through the bru­tal aware­ness of re­al­ity.

Earl Long por­trays true, re­fresh­ing Saint Lu­cian tal­ent in this novel. It is def­i­nitely a must read!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.