Jamaica Magazine

Book Review: My Darling You

Written by Staff Writer

About the book:
A collection of six short stories set in Jamaica. They all deal with a love theme. From first love between teenagers to the aftermath of lost love for the more mature, love doesn’t always end in ‘happily ever after’ even when there’s a bit of fantasy thrown in.  Each story provides food for thought about romantic love and relationships.

Review:
My Darling You by Hazel Campbell on Geoffrey Philp’s blog

Last Sunday, I decided to put my money where my mouth was by supporting a fellow Jamaican/Caribbean writer. For if discoverability will continue to be the main challenge for Caribbean writers, especially with the advent of e-publishing, I figured that if I liked the work, then I would do my best to spread the word. So, I downloaded a copy of Hazel Campbell’s e-book, My Darling You, curled up with my iPad on the sofa, and marveled at the sheer mastery that Ms. Campbell displayed in her new collection.

Setting the tone with a poem, “Our Antillean ark/ painted Carib blue/ charts ancient unknown waves/ even to the center of the storm,” the six stories, with the exception of “The Santa Picture,” are set in Jamaica and live up to the description on the Amazon web site: “Six short stories set in the Caribbean, loosely linked around the theme of love.”

The stories in My Darling You are engaging in their deft development of character, use of dialogue, and adept handling of plot. But there’s more. They also give the reader a brief glimpse into the lives of characters who have been changed by love while skillfully exploring Jamaican attitudes toward sexuality (“Emancipation Park) and the influence of the church on the romantic decisions of its members (“First Love”).

But wait, there’s even more. Hidden between the layers of realism and social commentary there’s a delightful fable, “The Jamaican Princess,” a story about a sleeping princess in the land of Jamrock, who after many years awakens to the misery that her years of slumber have created. Of course, there is the requisite charming prince (who is unlike any other Prince Charming you’ve read about) who rouses the princess’s compassion for her people and two scheming priests, Bongojai and Congojai, who oppose the princess’s plans to undo the damage caused by her neglect.
I won’t give away the rest of the plot, except to say that I’ve learned something from My Darling You. Instead of putting together the equivalent of a two hundred-page collection, wouldn’t it be better, as Ms. Campbell has done, to assemble stories that could according to Poe’s advice, “be read in one sitting”?

You may be on to something here, Ms. Campbell. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

About Hazel Campbell
Hazel Campbell is a graduate of the UWI, Mona. She has worked as a teacher and in public relations/communications as editor, features writer and video producer. Now retired, she works as a freelance Communications Consultant and continues writing fiction.  She also writes for children and has six children’s books published in Jamaica

In 2012 Hazel was awarded a Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica for her “contribution to children’s literature and the encouragement of new writers”.  Visit Hazel Campbell’s blogs: http://jambooks-fiction.blogspot.com/ or http://hazeldeebooks.blogspot.com/

Where to buy the book
Available on Amazon.com 

About the author

Staff Writer