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The Fur Quits - Steamedtreaclesponge book

11 replies

swissmiss · 01/07/2009 20:34

Steamedtreaclesponge's choice: TEWWG by ZNH


OP posts:
MoominMymbleandMy · 19/07/2009 16:45

I thought this was surprisingly upbeat and cheerful for a novel about a young black woman in early twentieth century America.

While I wouldn't call Janie an archetypal feminist heroine the book was uncompromisingly clear that she can only be happy when she is allowed to be herself. And the only man who allows her to do that is the seemingly wildly unsuitable gambling toy boy.

I did shudder at his beating her being further proof of his love for her. But I think that was one of the few jarring notes in the novel, which is over 70-years-old so one has to make allowances for changing attitudes.

Her other two husbands insist on moulding her to their own image and unsurprisingly Jane feels stifled and longs for escape when she is married to them.

But when she returns home after the death of her true love I couldn't help thinking she wouldn't be quite so independent without the healthy bank balance left by the second husband.

I would rather like to have known how a single, financially independent and newly confident Janie managed the rest of her life.

It is very readable, quite funny at times and very dramatic towards the end. An unusual choice, I think, but definitely worth it.

steamedtreaclesponge · 20/07/2009 11:52

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I first read it at university for an essay I was writing on the construction of an African-American literary identity, and it was one of only a couple of books I read for that paper that I actually liked, and have read several times since!

It is surprisingly upbeat - Hurston was quite a popular writer in the 30s but she was accused of writing for a white audience, and glossing over the reality of what life was like for most black Americans at the time. I suppose there is probably some justice to that, but at the same time, as it says in the intro, she did actually grow up in an all-black town, so it's not as if it were actually fantasy. And I don't read it looking for an evocation of the life of black people of the period, but because it's the story of one woman's life and her individual journey.

You're right about the beating part - that definitely jars nowadays! But I find the rest of it really romantic, in an odd way - Tea Cake doesn't want her money, or her property - he just wants her for herself, and for her to share in all aspects of his life. I love the way that they are so unconventional but still so happy.

TeamEdward · 11/10/2009 23:11

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headintheclouds · 13/11/2009 18:04


JackBauer · 18/11/2009 22:51

Ooh, I had forgotten whose book this was after I sent it on.
I have to admit to not getting past the first chapter though, I find speech written books really hard if I don't 'know' the accent as I can't 'hear' it, and I had so much on I just gave up.

LightShinesInTheDarkness · 21/11/2009 14:01

Sorry, but I gave up as well.

It was definitely the dialogue which defeated me - because its unfamiliar, I find myself reading aloud in my head rather than just going with the flow.

Same comments as JB really.

I feel bad about it as I could see that the book had been endorsed by some eminent writers and no doubt carried a strong message - but the style of the language made it inaccessible to me.

Wheelybug · 20/01/2010 19:44

I really enjoyed this book and read it really quickly. I think I've probably read quite a bit of African-American literature mainly because I've travelled a bit in the deep south so am interested in that area so have read a bit from there (although obv this wasn't the deep south).

Janie was fab really and her and teacake's love was v. romantic although I was waiting for the catch/him to go off with the money etc. I guess it didn't show the reality of life for black people at the time but was interesting in the setting up of the town (where is this based on ?).

An interesting and v. readable choice.

simpson · 11/04/2010 12:03

just getting on this thread. Making a start on this book today

simpson · 27/04/2010 17:29

ok have to be totally honest and say I gave up too

TBh I found it very hard work to get into and did not feel I was "connecting" with the main character iyswim.


madamy · 02/05/2010 20:28

catching up on my book comments! I had this back in the autumn and really struggled with it, mainly because of the style of writing - I couldn't keep up with what was happening. Unfortunately, it beat me and I only read a little bit!

cathcat · 20/05/2010 00:17

I also gave up on this book. The dialogue was too hard work I really wanted to like it but it just wasn't to be.

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