24 Books to Christmas – Day 5

baublesThis year I chose this next 24 Books to Christmas book for the February ReadSoulLit Readalong in honor of Black history Month – Unforgivable Love by Sophronia Scott.  Wow! This was such an interesting modern retelling of the 18th century French classic novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

Scott did an excellent job by placing this modern day retelling in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance with all black characters.  As the original classic is written in epistolary format, Scott chose to write it in prose/novel format.  That was not an easy feat but she managed to develop all the characters well and to tell the story while choosing the most import scenes to highlight .

Most of the readers who participated in this readalong loved the messiness between the characters.  It made us shake our heads, laugh out loud and gasp.  Scott’s astute fashion writing dialogues was that fine line between humor and seriousness at times.  The readers who didn’t like the book felt that the characters were being mean just to be mean and that wasn’t interesting to them. This being said it is a retelling so Scott can’t change the story.  It just wasn’t for those few readers.

Overview:

“Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she Lovecraves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.

Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.

But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her most unforgivable mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.” (Unforgivable Love, back cover)

I’m linking below the Unforgivable Love Live discussion for anyone who may have missed it but has read the book. this video is full of spoilers so if you’re concerned about that don’t watch until you’ve read the book.  However don’t miss out on this discussion because it was very lively and full of a lot of insight. Moreover, Sophronia Scott joined in on the live where we had the pleasure of discussing the book, talking about creative writing, and Scott working on a black modern version of Jane Eyre. I can’t wait!

 

Unforgivable Love – Sophronia Scott

Publisher:  Harper Collins – William Morrow

Pages: 506

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Incognegro Renaissance #1

Zane Pinchback, the light-skinned reporter from the black newspaper The New Holland Herald is back!  The graphic novel Incognegro introduced us to Zane and the daring way he goes about writing stories about the lynchings that were taking place all over the south during the 1920s.

Zane continues to use this approach in a new graphic novel called Incognegro Renaissance #1.  This will be the first in a series of graphic novels featuring Zane Pinchback and continues to take place in New York during the Harlem Renaissance, giving the name to the series.

The story begins of course with a murder as most mysteries do, but soon we see that Mat Johnson the author is setting central characters, setting, but most of all social complexities of this time period for black people.  We’re in New York and Johnson shows the race division was clearly traced of where black people were allowed to be even within the famous Cotton Club of the time located in the heart of Harlem.  Zane is a determined reporter and won’t stop until he uncovers the truth.

Incognegro Renaissance #1 is a pretty straight forward mystery, with beautiful black and white artwork from Warren Pleece who also drew for Incognegro.  The graphic novel is split into 5 major chapters.  The 2 major complaints I have with Incognegro Renaissance #1 is that it’s too short and secondly the pages aren’t numbered.  I was expecting the story to be a lot more developed like Incognegro, but I guess Mat Johnson is taking his time to build this series.  Despite those two complaints, it was a very quick and enjoyable read.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Zane passing for white helps him solve the murders of black people but also affects his relationships with his friends and colleagues in future volumes.

I recommend beginning with Incognegro because it will give you more background on the character of Zane Pinchback, as well as the other minor characters surrounding him.  You’ll then be able to get into the prequel, Incognegro Renaissance #1 with a better feel of the story.  I checked to see if the following graphic novels  Incognegro #2 and Incognegro #3 have been released.  I found that they have been but sadly only in Kindle format. I’ll have to wait until they come out in paper  format and I have no idea when that will be.  If and when I hear anything I’ll let you know.  If you hear anything please let me know. 🙂

Incognegro Renaissance #1, hardcover (Berger Books)