Centered around picturesque Trinidad, an emotionally arresting story about one woman’s struggles and epiphany.
Joseph’s second book of fiction (PROSE in the Key of Life, 2009) is a labyrinthine narrative in its multiple contours and even its dialogue. For example, in one scene, the protagonist laments: “I’ve lost my son; my daughter thinks my sister is her mother. The only man I’ve ever loved I abandoned for the high life. So whatever happens to me now, I don’t really care.” Loss is a recurring theme. Toward the end of the book, the protagonist, Annabelle, mourns the passing of her “dearly departed relatives”: in order, “Ricardo, Rosabelle, Ma, Pa, Troy, and Aunt Katherine.” This is an eventful tale: Annabelle Castello escapes the banal squalor of her hometown, Bristol Village; she seeks (and ultimately finds) fame and fortune in urbane Port-of-Spain. But despite her material success, she remains fundamentally unsatisfied, always pining for a simpler, more fulfilling life. She returns to Bristol to locate the man she loved and left behind and the daughter she abandoned. Instead, she finds the love of her life has died and that a knot of drama awaits her. After multiple husbands come and go, and a funerary parade of relatives leaves this world, she also manages to become a drug mule. While the author’s style sometimes borders on lyrical, it has a tendency to drift toward the overly ornate. For example, one character is described as a “tall, exquisitely attired woman who appeared exceedingly conspicuous amid the staid ambience.” Among the author’s flashes of elegance are many clumsy and overwrought descriptions. Still, the novel remains an absorbing account of its hero’s slow and painful maturation.
A wrenching story undermined by convoluted prose.