Based on a remarkable and little-known true story, Jane Harris’s third novel is both a heart-breaking trip into our troubled colonial past, and a stunning act of literary ventriloquism.
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The stunning return from the Orange Prize shortlisted author of The Observations and Gillespie and I
‘Pitches you headfirst into this outstanding, heartbreaking story of siblings, slavery and the savagery of the colonial past.’ SUNDAY EXPRESS
‘Harris builds a lush sense of place, and the pace and tension of a rip-roaring adventure here, with derring-do and double-crossing.’ THE TIMES
‘Through masterful detail, Harris shows the dehumanisation of the brothers and their fellow slaves . . . Beautifully cadenced.’ IRISH TIMES
Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal. While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas – and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste – he sets out with his brother on this ‘reckless venture’.
With great characters, a superb narrative set up, and language that is witty and thrillingly alive, Sugar Money is a novel to treasure.
Harris builds a lush sense of place, and the pace and tension of a rip-roaring adventure here, with derring-do and double-crossing and a looming sense of threat and dread from the start.
Based on a true story, and told by Lucien in rich, supple prose that echoes the rhythms of Caribbean speech, Sugar Money gives a memorable voice to people whose lives have largely been ignored by history and fiction.
Jane Harris pitches you headfirst into this outstanding, heartbreaking story of siblings, slavery and the savagery of the colonial past.
Rip-roaring adventure and unspeakable tragedy... However, it’s Lucien’s voice that steals the show — a mix of raw vigour and high-flown poetry peppered with cleverly deployed creole. If Lucien’s charm sweetens a bitter pill, this is ultimately a shaming story of wicked injustice to leave your heart heavy.
Harris’s great triumph is Lucien’s voice… Harris makes the brutal reality of slavery utterly plain. The risk of her earlier restraint has paid off and the brief, harrowing scenes towards the novel’s climax have an extra power because of it.
Sugar Money is at times brutal and hard to read, but it's also a story that swells with empathy and hope. Terrific stuff.
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