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by Francine Thomas Howard

It is 1913, shortly before the start of the First World War, and Annalaura is alone again. Her gambling, womanizing husband has left the plot they sharecrop in rural Tennessee â? why or for how long she does not know. Without food or money and with her future tied to the fate of the seasonâ?s tobacco crop, Annalaura struggles to raise her four children. When help comes in the form of an amorous landowner, who is she to turn it â? and him â? away? In this remarkable first novel, as bracingly original as it is exquisitely rendered, Francine Howard tells a moving story of American desire and ambition and the tragic, slippery boundaries of race under Jim Crow. â?Based on a true family story, this haunting first novel admirably revisits a painful time in history. Too often historical novels about women indulge in anachronistic explorations of feminism, but this novel admirably avoids that trap and instead portrays realistic characters dealing with their difficult lot in life.â? â? Booklist
Download Page from a Tennessee Journal epub
ISBN: 0982555067
ISBN13: 978-0982555064
Category: Literature
Subcategory: United States
Author: Francine Thomas Howard
Language: English
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 16, 2010)
Pages: 288 pages
ePUB size: 1751 kb
FB2 size: 1458 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 153
Other Formats: docx txt lrf mbr

I really wanted to like this book. I finished it because I was intrigued by the storyline. The description implied it tells of an important part of history. And in a way, it does cover that and there was so much potential, but honestly, it's ... trashy. I could have overlooked the verbose prose, but the "romanticized" telling of a white man "seducing" a destitute and powerless black woman was highly offensive and vulgar, not the least because it was so unnecessary to the story; I am not easily offended. I assumed the writer had some subconscious racism that was oddly showing in a story that supposedly was about a strong black woman. I was shocked that this book was written by a black woman. I am so disappointed that M's. Howard chose the "soft porn disguised as literature" genre route instead of what could have been powerful and timely historical fiction.
The author did a good job with drawing the reader into the lives of southerners living in the early 1900's on a tobacco farm in Tennessee. This was a time when women were regarded as mere property belonging to a man to do what he wanted. They had no say so over how their husbands treated them. White women had to turn a blind eye to their husband's indiscretions with "Negro" women sharecroppers who were without husbands. Thus the story unfolds where a sharecropper inadvertently falls in love with the wife of one of his Negro sharecropppers who has abandoned his family for a year, while he went off to make more money for them.
However this is no romantic tale. The sharecropper feels entitled to take what he wants thus ignoring the fact that his wife, EulaMae might be hurt, or that AnnaLaura the Negro sharecropper's wife, may not want his affections.
As it turns out,he is kind, loving and gentle to "Laurie' as he affectionately calls her and falls in love...
The ending was rather abrupt and it seems whenever there is a story of interracial love between a white man and a black woman,the ending always leaves something to be desired. It seems that certain boundaries can never be crossed even to this day. A black woman can never be held on the same level of desirability and attractiveness of a white woman. This was discussed in the book and i seems to reflect continuing attitudes that while it is Ok for white men to have carnal relationships with black women, they can't 'live out loud' with them, or love them.
Even though I applaud the author for taking on this story that while fiction, depicts a reality that occurred all throughout the south, and all too often, I am disappointed that the story seems to stop short at breaking down boundaries... it only goes so far.
I absolutely loved this book. Francine brings the time period of the early 1900's to life. It's like you're there. I liked the details she described about the characters as well as their emotions and the atmosphere. She held nothing back. I really believe this was an untold reality for a lot of African American women throughout American history. Im sure not all interracial relationships between white men and black women were brutal, some may have been romantic. As a black woman with European decent I ponder on my ancestor's relationships here in America. That's why I'm fascinated by her books on multiculturalism in a America. I wish her books could be transformed into movies. Keep up the good work. I hope to see more books.
This novel tells a story about an ugly reality of the South's history - the exploitation of black women by white men (and the impact that exploitation had on the spouses of those women and men). I salute the author for telling the story and for trying to give the characters some depth instead of just falling back on easy stereotypes.

However, I wish the telling of the story had been stronger. I just couldn't sympathize with any of the characters. Even when they were locked in the traumatic events of their situation, I didn't feel for them. It was more like I was an observer standing off to the side and watching with an impartial eye, which is a shame. The story could have had so much more power if it had somehow engaged me with at least one of the characters.


The ending, in particular, was disappointing to me. To be honest, I have no idea what Annalaura is going to choose. Will she forgive John and get off the train before Chicago? Will she continue on to Chicago with hopes that Alex will come find her? Or is she going to dump them both and be a "strong" single mother? I felt the ending was so ambiguous that the story didn't have closure. I felt a little cheated, given the investment of time I had put into reading the novel.
An interracial relationship in the 1900's? This would cause quite a commotion and pose trouble for the people involved.
Unfortunately, we as a society have not come very far. The same judgement, leers, and gossip surround this subject.
Imagine a black woman in that era , pregnant by a white man. Oh, I would be worried also. This book reveals love has no color. The compassion, love, kindness, desire and well being for another person is colorless. The outside people bring color into the mix. Interesting read, comparing the difficulties of interracial relations then and now. I enjoy feeling the perspective from each of the characters. A good eye-opening read.
This is one of those novels you know from the start that it is special. What a wonderful read. The pace was electric, the story was heartfelt and touching. So many emotions are explored, especially what a woman will do for her children and what happens when the unthinkable becomes believable. Complex relationships become understandable. This is what they talk about when they say curl up with a great book.