Bernice McFadden's Glorious opens with an interesting premise. If the real-life "Fight of the Century" between Jack Johnson and James Jeffries hadn't occurred, then the life of our protagonist, Easter Bartlett, might not have taken the turns it did. She might not have been moved to leave her hometown of Waycross, Georgia; might not have met the strangely fascinating dancer named Rain; might not have ended up married to Marcus Garvey's would-be assassin; and might not have found herself a darling of the Harlem Renaissance.
Although the historical events mentioned in Easter's story most certainly occurred, Easter Bartlett is nothing but a figment of McFadden's imagination. The book, which is half Ragtime and half Beloved, is fresh for both reasons. While its fictional main character may be more engaging than the real figures that populate the story, the novel is written so that history serves as a supporting actor, a mirror to reflect the true drama of what's happening in Easter's world and the world at large.
As such, Glorious is filled with many voices telling many stories. The prose flows along swiftly, catching in its current a number of different places and social spheres. Alfre Woodard rises to this challenge with incredible talent and range. One moment she's an early-1900s white socialite, the next a Caribbean man freshly immigrated to America. She's totally competent in each new role, turning an exceptional piece of new literature into a kind of epic bedtime story, complete with colorful voices. Woodard rolls gracefully with McFadden's wild cast of characters, inhabiting each of their experiences, adding volumes to the mythical feeling of the work and, with McFadden's help, making us believe their stories. Gina Pensiero
Academy Award nominee Alfre Woodard narrates Glorious, by Bernice L. McFadden, a novel set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. This is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path out of Waycross, Georgia, to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty. Woodard’s nuanced narration beautifully enhances McFadden’s imaginative blend of fictional and real events and people—such as Marcus Garvey, Langston Hughes, pianist Fats Waller, and shipping heiress Nancy Cunard.
Glorious poses the question that is the title of Langston Hughes’s famous poem: What happens to a dream deferred? It is an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption. Easter is not only a survivor, but also a creator, and a fearless blazer of trails.
Bernice L. McFadden is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, including the classic Sugar and Nowhere Is a Place, which was a Washington Post Best Fiction title for 2006.
©2010 Bernice L. McFadden (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"McFadden's lively and loving rendering of New York hews closely to the jazz-inflected city of myth.... McFadden has a wonderful ear for dialogue, and her entertaining prose equally accommodates humor and pathos." (New York Times Book Review)
"McFadden tells Easter's story with zest and affection." (All Things Considered, NPR)
"Easter's hope for love to overthrow hate—and her intense exposure to both—cogently stands for America's potential, and McFadden's novel is a triumphant portrayal of the ongoing quest." (Publishers Weekly)
This premise had the potential of being a blockbuster, but there was just too much junk to wade through. I totally understand that this woman had so many problems in her life that no one would aspire to, but I just thought it was overdone, and I just didn't love reading/listening to it. I kept expecting it to get better, and although the ending sort of redeemed much of the not-so-glorious parts of the book, it just wasn't enough for me to get all excited about. It seems that Ms. McFadden tried to follow along the lines of the marvelous "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neal Hurston, but in my opinion it did not even come close.
I don't even know what I just listened to. I'm disappointed. The story just didn't seem cohesive and the ending was odd. I've only read one other book by McFadden and it was good so I had high hopes. I just don't know what happened here. I'm not sure what the plot was and I have so many questions. I was bored and only finished because I paid for it and I loved Alfre Woodard's narration. Other than that, the story was a fail for me.
Real and Thought Provoking!!!
I loved the use of real people from history. The usage of real street and places in Harlem. I felt transformed in time. The story seemed true.
All descriptions of this book state that its themes are the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance writers and the civil rights movement. The book starts in 1910 and ends in the 60s.It follows one black woman, Easter, from her childhood in the South, her time up in Harlem, skims the intervening years and then ends up back in the South again. Yes, the book does cover those themes, but there is another central theme that is not mentioned. It must be mentioned – sex. If you are going to feel uncomfortable reading about various bizarre lesbian relationships, well then look elsewhere; this theme plays a very prominent role. I am fine with lesbian relationships that focus upon the loving relationship; it is a love like any other between two individuals. I think both the heterosexual and homosexual affairs are added to this story to pique the readers' interest, to shock, to add spice to the story. I checked internet to see if the sexual tidbits were in fact historical details that had to be there to portray the historical content correctly. No, pure fiction! From my point of view they detract from the story.
Too many parts of the fictional story were too bizarre and too revolting for my taste. I felt no empathy for any character. The book is short and covers the important events in Easter's life. You are not given her internal thoughts; you watch her actions.
The reader is given information about the writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
I think it all comes down to this: I didn't like how the author told her story.
I don't know. I have not read the print version. Sorry.
It would complement The Warmth of Other Suns.
Great and expressive voices and a good ear for character and dialect.
Lots---it is in many ways a book of moving moments. But I actually think that could be interpreted as a weakness. I enjoyed it a lot though. It made my long runs great!
If I could leave a negative star review I would.... This has got to be one of the worst written books I've ever had the displeasure of listening/reading. This book jumped from one character to another to another while killing off others - who knows why or what happened after or anything pertinent to the actual story!? Throw a couple of facts from the time period in, put in a horrid scene that yes, most likely did take place back then and then call it a book. What a waste of time and a credit - to say nothing of the angst it has caused me once it called itself "the end." Boo.
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