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Unburnable A Novel

In this riveting narrative of family betrayal vengeance and murder Lillian Baptiste is willed back to her island home of Dominica to finally settle her past Haunted by scandal and secrets Lillian left Dominica when she was fourteen after discovering she was the daughter of Iris the half crazy woman whose life was told of in chanté mas song. Wow I can hardly believe Unburnable is Marie Elena John s debut because she wrote such a deep suspenseful novel that had me guessing until the last page I found it to be perfectly paced very well written with colorful smart characters that jumped off the page I was both entertained and educated by this offering a rare feat in today s literature The story centers on three generations of Dominican women two of which are infamously captured in local folklore legend and indigenous songs Matilda a proud majestic African woman rud to dabble in Obeah was publicly tried and hanged for murder after she confessed in police custody Iris Matilda s daughter was a beautiful prostitute known for her voracious sexual appetite disreputable past and uestionable mental health Lillian Iris s daughter was raised by her stepmother after Iris s untimely death Lillian eventually moves to the United States to live with an aunt in order to shield her from her foremother s legacy We learn uickly that the proverbial fruit does not fall far from the tree After years of self suppression Lillian s mental instability manifests to the point where she now has difficulty blocking the painful memories Fueled by inner voices and haunting flashbacks she decides to return back to Dominica to learn the truth surrounding her family She engages Teddy a renowned attorney collegiate confidante and soon to be lover who is basking in the afterglow of a sensationalized legal case where he successfully disproves a self confession against tumultuous odds Lillian sensing her grandmother s innocence asks Teddy to join her in Dominica to re investigate Matilda s 1940 s era confession to mass murder What ensues is a loaded history of dark secrets shocking scandal and a cover up that permeates all levels of class religion and the biased politics of the day At the very core of the story the author captures the essence of the African Diaspora The complexities struggles and compromises surrounding the blending of races cultures and faiths are evident in the trials and tribulations of all three women in both current and historical eras There are even subtle observations and theories regarding African American and African Caribbean cultures which explain the mindsets of the key characters Additionally the author weaves a great deal of Dominican history throughout the novel done with such care that the lessons are not overbearing but essential to understanding the motivation and principles of key characters that eventually lead to the mystery s resolution I loved the transition between eras the flashbacks to Matilda and Lillian s periods were smooth and blended evenly with the modern day episodes between Lillian and Teddy This is a great debut and I am looking forward to this author s next body of work

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And with the help of Teddy the man she refused to love she will find a way to healSet partly in contemporary Washington DC and partly in post World War II Dominica Unburnable weaves together West Indian history African culture and American sensibilities Richly textured and lushly rendered Unburnable showcases a welcome and assured new voic. Decades ago in the 1940s a woman by the name of Matilda was hung for murder on the lush green island of Dominica Her story became the stuff of chante mas songs songs sung during the pre Lenten Masuerade and known to everyone Now her grand daughter born in Dominica but partially raised in the United States is back to discover the real story behind Matilda s execution Was Matilda really an Obeah woman with the power to heal as well as to kill How did Matilda s daughter Lillian s own mother the beautiful Iris lose her mind To whom did the bones hidden in the forested mountains really belongUnburnable weaves together the lives of three women Matilda Iris and Lillian into one amazing story of love betrayal murder madness and loss all against the background of the rich cultural history of Dominica The vivid descriptions of the dresses the costumes the masuerades and the customs of the island make Unburnable a rich feast for the senses

Marie-Elena John Ê 5 characters

S sung during Carnival Matilda Swinging and Bottle of Coke; songs about the village on a mountaintop and bones and bodies songs about flying masuerades and a man who dropped dead Lillian knew the songs well And now she knows these songs and thus the history belong to her After twenty years away Lillian returns to face the demons of her past. This book was like a cheap romance novel set in the Caribbean Although there were some interesting sections regarding the tradition of voodoo in the Caribbean it had little relevance to the plot and was completely ahistorical Most of the novel was dedicated to developing the useless character of Teddy the protaganist s love interest and a senseless reiteration of male privilege Overall I was uite disappointed

  • Hardcover
  • 304
  • Unburnable A Novel
  • Marie-Elena John
  • English
  • 23 May 2019
  • 9780060837570

About the Author: Marie-Elena John

Marie Elena John is a Caribbean writerShe was born and raised in Antigua and is a former development specialist of the African Development Foundation the World Council of Churches’ Program to Combat Racism and Global Rights formerly the International Human Rights Law Group where she worked in support of the pro democracy movement in Nigeria and in the Democratic Republic of Congo She is kno



10 thoughts on “Unburnable A Novel

  1. says:

    there are some problems with this bookbesides a few distracting typos and i usually don't mind but these changed meanings too much to be acceptable it's the same problems that books like the eight and the ghost of hannah mendes suffer from all of these books split the narrative between a modern day and a historical plot but the modern plot always suffers and devolves into a stock romance type plot it's a shame

  2. says:

    Wow I can hardly believe Unburnable is Marie Elena John's debut because she wrote such a deep suspenseful novel that had me guessing until the

  3. says:

    I really liked the beginning and set of up of the storyline But by the end I was disapointed and exhausted By the end I was didnt want to hear about the characters any However I enjoyed the Carribean hsitory and culutre information Exploitation and mutilation of women not so much It seemed as if this story has been created

  4. says:

    This novel was a struggle for me to finish The story was interesting but the writing style made this book a treme

  5. says:

    This book was like a cheap romance novel set in the Caribbean Although there were some interesting sections regarding the tradition of voodoo in the Caribbean it had little relevance to the plot and was completely ahistorical Most

  6. says:

    I highly recommend joining a book club because it challenges you to read books outside your preferred genre andor comfort zone I would have never read Unburnable if it wasn't for my work book club I am glad I read this book It is an interesting story about three generations of women living or growing up on the island of Dominica It

  7. says:

    This is a difficult book to review I feel certain that it's better than the average read but what exactly to say about it afterwards?Currently I am living on the island of Dominica where the story takes place and I was told that it

  8. says:

    Decades ago in the 1940s a woman by the name of Matilda was hung for murder on the lush green island of Dominica Her story became the stuff of chante mas songs songs sung during the pre Lenten Masuerade and known to everyone Now her g

  9. says:

    Marie Elena John uses the Caribbean carnival as the stage where native custom family history and West African culture collide forever changing the celebration of carnival for the people of Roseau in Dominica In the freshman novel Unburnable John uses the celebration of carnival and carnival songs to reveal a uniue history of West Indians in general while spanning the three generations of one family This story weaves together the history

  10. says:

    This year I decided to renew my library card and read West Indian Literature especially those written by women Th

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