16 Mar 2012


(Strange that there is no exact image of the book cover I have available on- line, this is the nearest I can get.)

America's deep South in the early nineteenth century: Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans, but most of all she longs to be free of her suffocating domestic situation. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie.
....... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Part 1*): It never ends.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS (Page 50): It was like looking into the inkwell.I could make out the shape of the oak, but only as texture, like black velvet against black silk.

A novel about slavery? Hmm, I wasn't too sure about this, wouldn't it be harrowing and dark and, well, depressing?

You'd think so wouldn't you and yet, on the whole, Property failed to move me as much as I expected. Maybes because of the matter of fact way in which it was told or maybes because the author didn't seem to delve too deeply into the issues, or could it be there was no 'unneccessary' words, no over usage of descriptions? (My Memorable Moment being one of the few exceptions). I don't know what it was but I found it difficult to fully connect with the characters on a emotional level.

In fact, never mind on an emotional level, I failed to connect with most of the characters on any kind of level ..... Walter being the exception. The son of Manon's white husband (do you know I can't  remember him ever being named) and black (though as the author distinguishes she is pale skinned) slave Sarah, Walter is born disabled, and seen as little better than an animal, he is treated accordingly which is actually what moved me the most as, in many ways, his story was even more harrowing than that of the other slaves.

The story of a unhappily married woman (Manon) who I found to be pitifully self-absorbed, her somewhat churlish husband, and Sarah, a slave  'given' to Manon on her wedding day, this is a book all about relationships, resentment, unrest and allegiances.

A difficult read but not for the reasons I expected, Property was one of those books that I found myself re-reading as I went along, convinced that I had missed something vital that would make the story meaningful.

* Another criticism being the lack of any true chapters - Ok so there were breaks in the narrative and the book was sectioned into four parts but, as most of you know, I do like my chapters.

READ AN EXTRACT courtesy of The Guardian newspaper.


Kelly said...

Breaks are okay, but I do like my chapters, as well. (and breaks within long chapters are nice)

I'm afraid this is a time frame that would not be first choice for me, no matter where it was set.

naida said...

I don't know about this one. I don't mind not having chapters but the lack of connection would ruin it for me. It sounds like a good premise but poor delivery. I enjoyed your review.

ritsa said...

well, i'm with you, i too like my chapters. i don't think i'd enjoy this book.

brilliant review! i love the way you discuss the major problem in the book and prove your point.


Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

poverty looks like a dark book, violent in its look at what slavery does to slaves...and to slave owners.

i'd avoid this book for sure because of the disturbing subject matter.

big hugs dear tracy!

Hollie said...

I'm with Betty, I think I'd end up avoiding this book purely for the subject matter. It's a shame you didn't really enjoy the book though.

Suko said...

I prefer chapters as well. Thanks for another thoughtful review.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh darn! This really looked like it could have great potential. I think you would have to connect to the characters to really feel for what they have to go through. Too bad that didn't happen.

StarTraci said...

That's a shame. I got so excite when I heard it was 19th century New Orleans. It offers such a rich palette for storytelling.


The Golden Eagle said...

It's too bad you didn't enjoy the book!

Thanks for the review.