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The View from Belmont

Authors: Kevyn Arthur

Published by Peepal Tree Press

ISBN: 9781900715027

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The View from Belmont tells two stories: one through the letters of a young English widow who takes over her husband's cocoa estate in Trinidad in 1823; the other through the responses of a group of contemporary Trinidadians who are reading the letters at the time of the 1990 Muslimeen attempted coup. Clara's letters present the insights of a perceptive, independent-minded and generous-spirited young woman, who is nevertheless wholly committed to the institution of slavery. The letters give a sharp sense of Trinidadian society in the process of formation, but at their heart is an account of Clara's relationships with those with whom she shares her life on the estate, in particular Kano, a 'loyal' slave who she takes to her bed.

For the contemporary Trinidadians, the letters raise troubling questions about the nature of the national psyche, the absence of social consensus and the extent to which the history of that period still shapes the present. Is Clara a 'worthless white bitch - no different from any of them men who was screwing their slave women' or a sensible woman taking charge of her life and looking for companionship? This is a comic, painful and moving novel. Its presentation of the cruelties, violence and affections of everyday relations under slavery raise questions not only about the nature of Caribbean societies, but the nature of history and its interpretation.

Novelist and poet Kevyn Arthur was born in Barbados in 1942. He has worked as a journalist and as a philosophy lecturer, and currently lives in Virginia.
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