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)
I love Alfre Woodard and that was the reason why I chose this book. The subject matter also appealed to me. Unfortunately, near the beginning of the book there was a description of a pregnant woman's lynching that was so explicit and gruesome that I could not shake it from my mind. I have always been extra sensitive to any depiction of torture, so this may not deter other readers. I have put the book down, but do plan to try it again in a little more time..
This was a beautiful story.Alfre Woodard brings such a rich tone to a deep story which shows the struggle, the sucess and the magnificant contribution African Americans have made to American literature. We know how much talent existed but do we really realize how much talent died under the weight of oppression?
Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Audio Version - Narrated by Alfre Woodard
As much as I love having my books in hardcover format, I can not begin to express how delighted I was with the audio version of Glorious, (downloaded from Audible.com) - Author, Bernice McFadden's adaption of this period was excellent and the narration by, Actress Alfre Woodward was outstanding.
I felt I knew these wonderfully portrayed characters as they came to life; and I became emotionally invested as I experienced them and their plights and issues in this commanding thought-provoking epic of a novel with it's rich historical detail. What I didn't know, I learned from this, and I was reminded of what I already knew.
You may find certain aspects of this true-to-life work of fiction heartbreaking, cruel, nerve-wracking, and more - but you will also find it difficult to put down, because it will grip and hold your attention from beginning to end.
If you haven't read it or listen to it via audio, you are missing out on a remarkable experience. This is a novel that truly deserves to be adapted into an award winning movie.
*P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!
and available on Audible.com
I rarely write reviews simply for lack of time (if I had the time to write reviews I'd read more books instead of listening to them), but this book moved me to write one. It really shouldn't be missed.
Alfre Woodard does an amazing job narrating McFadden beautiful prose in this story that is at times so horrifying you will find your jaw dropping and will have you rooting for the central figure.
This book is so good it's one I'll probably go back and read. It deals with an important time in our country's history and intersperses real historical figures in with fictional ones.
Alfred Woodard did a remarkable job narrating this story.The characters are as colorful as the plots and twists, heartache and joyful moments....I didn't think I would be able to hang after listening to the first few chapters because the events are so grueling but I am so happy that I did because the very last quote from Zora Neale Hurston speaks volumes after this read...
Racism, love, hate, loss, jealousy, wanderlust, the desire for more, the time to move on, the black experience, the harlem renaissance ... all told through the life of Easter. Well written, well developed, and excellent narration by Alfre Woodard. It was hard to listen to at times but so worth it in the end.
I read this book first, then I listened to it. Both times I tried to envision what it must have been like for this young black woman, who was well educated for her time, the Jim Crow era, to live a life so unfulfilling. Although it was a well written story, I was hoping for more. I wasn't quite satisfied. Alfre Woodard was an amazing narrator, in which she brought each character to life; she made them real to me. I appreciate the women who lived during these times, who made such sacrifices, which allow me to be the woman I am today.
McFadden takes us back in time to the Jim Crow south and the Harlem renaissance. Her protagonist is a memorable character. There is a plot twist that frustrated me and made this a 4 star rather than a 5.
Glorious certainly rates high on my list of audiobooks.
I love historical fiction when it is done well, and this was very well done. It was easy to believe that Easter and Rain lived through those times. It was easy to believe that their stories were true. McFadden managed to present the really difficult truth of the cruelty that existed (and still does, I'm sure) with the glorious feeling of a life well lived.
Alfre Woodard's voice is like velvet. The voices she created for the characters gave real dimension to the listening experience.
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Good one! Thanks to Audible for having this in store. I would recommend this book to my family and friends.
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