Dialogue between its components is, indeed, intrinsic to the organisation of Considering Woman II. Whilst the stories in 'Bitter Tales' are very explicitly set in the past, they are often accompanied by a present-day women’s talk commenting on the story. In 'Mrs Uptown' for instance, we learn that what begins as a story of male abandonment, but becomes an account of a woman who finds a good man and happiness, is being told by the now elderly woman to her neighbour at a conference called 'Young Women in Crisis'. It is clear that the world presented in these pungently written stories of rape, abuse and unsupported pregnancies is not safely in the past. And the balancing sequence of 'Better Tales', each of which arrives at some place of epiphany, safety and even contentment, does so in a world where babies are abandoned in pit latrines, where poverty forces families to give away their children, and a young woman has five unsupported children by the age of twenty-five.
If the later stories no longer feel the need to reflect on the process and reception of women’s writing (which the earlier collection does very wittily), across all the work is an acutely sensitive consciousness of the consequences of the passage of time. 'Gran…', the longest piece in the book, is both a deeply moving account of the consequences of growing old, and a record of a vanishing way of life.
Velma Pollard writes poetry, fiction and studies of language. She was born in Jamaica and works at the University of the West Indies where she is Dean of the Faculty of Education.