by June Henfrey - £7.99 Peepal Press Ltd (1994)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780948833670 | ISBN 10: 094883367x
In the fields of whispering sugar cane, the rugged Atlantic coast of crashing breakers and the womb-like gullies of Barbados, the characters in these stories find a landscape which mirrors their inner lives.
Set at crucial points in Caribbean history, from slavery to the present; from Nanny, who cannot bear another day's captivity when rumours of slavery's abolition reach the island, to Hilda, returning home after many years in Britain, these are strong and moving portrayals of women attempting to define themselves in situations where power is determined by race and gender.
Nanny knows that 'neither she nor others could really call their lives their own', but it is not only under slavery that June Henfrey's women confront this fact. In doing so, their lives enlarge our sense of history.
"In her memorable story, ‘The Gully’, Quashebah, a slave who is raped and made pregnant by her overseer, flees and seeks sustenance for her secret dreams of freedom in a limestone cave, where she finds both welcome and protection. A particularly deep-rooted story is ‘Freedom Come’, telling of Nanny, one of the enthusiasts and mobilisers of Bussa’s slave rebellion in Barbados in 1816. Henfrey’s portrait, convincing and assured, is of an ‘old African who had never yielded to the fact of her enslavement. All her characters are of this mettle, whether born of slavery, colonialism or migration, and June Henfrey’s stories have left us the words and spirit of a writer and woman whose life and creative impulse was ever to seek freedom and betterment for her people on two sides of an ocean."
(Price & availability last checked: July 2018)
In booklists: Fiction - Black British Writers, Writers by Surname - H, Short Story Collections and Novellas, World Fiction - Barbados, In categories: Fiction, Black, Asian & Other Diasporas, World - Latin America & Caribbean,