Jamaica Magazine

Book Review – Dawn At Lover’s Leap

Written by Staff Writer

Book Description
Anita Campbell has been telling herself that Jerome Scott is not dead. It’s been twenty-five long and miserable years since her slave lover, and his other love, plunged to their deaths from a breathtakingly beautiful 1700-foot cliff off Jamaica’s south coast, after their secret romance was discovered. Anita had vowed she’d never love another man, slave or free. But even in death, she can’t forget Jerome, whose legacy is an illegitimate son Andrew, conceived during one of her many secret rendezvous with Jerome. Torn apart by the new reality of the abolition of slavery, a move she and Jerome had longed for, Anita is immersed deeper and deeper into her past. When Andrew decides to lobby for more rights for ex-slaves, an obligation he owes to his father’s memory, Anita is forced to see life differently now, and she reluctantly crawls out of her despondency. First, she finds herself in church, consolation in God, and attraction to a young and handsome pastor. But the new life for Anita is not going to be easy. Just when Anita begins to challenge the vow she made with Jerome, she realizes she has competition—from the dead and from the living.

Reviews:

Love Lost And Found At Lover’s Leap Review By A. W. Sangster (Jamaica Observer)

Dawn at Lover’s Leap can be regarded as the sequel to Horane Smith’s earlier novel Lover’s Leap. The sub-title, The Jamaican Legend Continues, is very appropriate for it takes up where the earlier novel ends with the two slave lovers leaping to their death from the cliffs of Lover’s Leap.

One might well have wondered what happened to Anita, the daughter of the estate owner and the lover who was left behind? What too of her parents and their reactions to the clandestine love affair that ended so tragically? Did she find another life?

Horane Smith does an excellent job in this novel in tying up the loose ends at what happened after. What he brings into the story is the fact that Anita had conceived a child in her illicit love affair with her slave lover Jerome, and the mulatto boy who was born was in fact the grandson of Alfred and Lynda Campbell. Those intermediate years were full of hostility to the illegitimate boy Andrew as he grew up, and the anger and lack of forgiveness that was vented on Anita and the boy in the home. These were difficult days for all the family and there was hurt all around.

Anita never lost her love for her missing lover Jerome. But as time moved on and she grew older there were the subtle and not so subtle moves particularly by her mother Lynda to find Anita a suitable husband and to shake her out of her depression. As the plot and story develops the perceptive young man Andrew recognized that: “a battle was shaping up, a battle for his mother.”

The author brings out in the emerging love story, the many twists and turns of competition and challenge as the battle for Anita emerges. Running through the story is an element of God’s purposes in life that gives the story a kind of subtle but delicate religious flavour. Yet there is nothing in the book of religious preachyness. Who will win the hand of Anita? Will it be the recently arrived and shy pastor Wilfred McIntosh of the little Baptist church at Yardley Chase, or the suitable and handsome barrister Peter Bradley from Black River? And what of John Stewart the long time property overseer who always had his eye on Anita? And what role does the beautiful and dangerous Leonora, daughter of the newly arrived doctor Simmonds, who is actively searching for a suitable mate? The pastor seems a likely candidate. The competition is subtle but intense and through it all the author captures the subtle moods and differences in the reactions of men and women.

In between the battle for the affections of Anita there are some interesting and important digressions.

One is the interest that her son Andrew is now developing in the welfare of the former slaves. Although the slaves are emancipated and allegedly free, their status and well being are desperate, and in some cases worse than when they were slaves. Work now is paid for with pitiful wages and not everyone can get work. Some former slave masters are vindictive and take it out on their former slaves. Fortunately Peter Campbell does not have that reputation and is seen as kind and generous. Nonetheless Andrew sees his future as having to do with the improvement of the lot of the slaves. This was his father’s dream. The dream that one day he would be free. His son carries on that vision in practical terms as to how he can help in the improvement process. He sees that a political role will be necessary and aspires to be a representative of the people in the Legislative Council. This new turn has a significant impact on Anita. She starts to wonder if Jerome’s dreams may well be fulfilled in the legacy and aspirations of her son Andrew. Andrew is planning to go to Kingston to be nearer the centre of political activity in the country

On the night before Andrew is due to set off for Kingston with his mother, a healing process begins. Alfred Campbell decides that the estrangement that has existed between them for all these years must end. The author describes the scene as grandfather Alfred enters the room where his daughter Anita and her son Andrew are talking.

“’The time has come for me to make peace with my only daughter, my grandson too”’ said Alfred. Anita walked over to her father and hugged him while he remained seated. Andrew did the same. Soon after, the sobs came and an emotional outburst filled the whole room. Lynda, who was coming up the stairs, heard everything. She rushed into the room quickly. Words wouldn’t make sense at the time. The tears, the hugs, spoke louder than words. Anita poured out her years of sadness. Alfred emptied himself of all the angry feelings he had, while Lynda soothed her troubles with the exchange of pleasantries between father and daughter. Andrew was the bond between all of them. The acceptance of his departure tomorrow brought home the message that it was time the “war” was over.”

Grandpa Alfred prays for his grandson’s future and his journey into the unknown. It was the first time that Anita or Andrew had heard him use the word grandson. In a moving statement Alfred Campbell says:

“I’m getting old. This is the least I can do for you, Andrew. In a sense maybe I’m trying to make up for all those years. I want to be honest. I couldn’t accept your father then but now things are different. Lynda and I have seen our error; we feel it’s best to put all that behind us in order to move on with our lives. Our duty is to you; our only grandchild.”

Pastor McIntosh is in the party with Andrew as he has promised to introduce him to the Baptist mission base where he can feel at home. The journey to Kingston with his mother and John Steward is eventful in many ways. Andrew has a home away from home and John the long time suitor of Anita meets Elizabeth who will in a short time become his wife. So one of the aspirants for Anita’s hand is now out of the way. But the plot thickens as the newly arrived Leonora has designs on pastor McIntosh. She comes to the church and soon takes over much of the running of the little assembly. Tongues start to wag and the pastor is now faced with an emotional challenge. He reflects on a previous attachment that had not worked out and so he is hesitant to get involved again with anyone. But Anita now has to consider the choice between the Barrister Peter Bradley and the pastor William McIntosh. In this complex emotional situation the obvious devotion of Leonora to the pastor complicates the situation. Anita is jealous of the situation that is developing and yet is obviously in love with the pastor. Anita has started going to church and finds the atmosphere warm and uplifting. In addition Sally who works for the pastor tells Anita that the whole of Yardley Chase knows that the pastor likes her. Sally says that tongues are starting to wag at the role of Leonora in the church. Anita is shocked at the revelation and wonders how to handle the situation. She decides to stay away from church for a while.

John and Elizabeth’s love affair gives the pastor an opportunity to discuss with John his perception of his relationship to Anita. John said: “I’ve never seen a woman love a man the way she did. After a time I knew that my chances with her almost zero. Although I refused to accept that, I can see how wrong I was in thinking I had a chance. If she should ever love someone like that again, he’ll be a lucky man”

In an emotional scene before John’s wedding Lynda tells her daughter that the pastor is in love with her though he is reticent and shy. Her mother says to Anita: “It’s only a matter of time before the two of you will have to face the fact that you cannot hide from each other anymore.”

The wedding of John and Elizabeth was a community affair with hundreds of people of all shades attending to witness the wedding and share in the reception at the Campbell’s house – Jack’s Place. It was here that the stand – off between Anita and the pastor came to an end. The concluding dialogue gives the reader some insights into the differences between men and women.

“Pastor McIntosh was standing in front of her, a warm and friendly smile on his face. Anita started to smile too, suspecting that what was to come would be her triumph or defeat.

“I’m wondering how long you’re going to avoid me,” the pastor said simply.

“I’m wondering how long you’re going to ignore me,” Anita replied.

“I guess we are both guilty of something. I know I am guilty of one thing,” Pastor McIntosh hinted. What’s that”? Anita asked.

Reaching for her hand and holding it in his, “The only thing I’m guilty of is taking too long to recognize that I’m in love …with you.”

“I’ve loved you all along all along” she sobbed, “It was so painful at one point. Now I’m the happiest woman in Yardley Chase. So the void caused by Jerome’s sad passing was ended. Anita thought inwardly. “Goodbye Jerome, until we meet again.”

Anita could now say this with truth and conviction and begin her new life without regrets

This is a lovely story that continues the legacy of love lost and found at Lover’s Leap. The author’s knowledge of the parish of St Elizabeth and Jamaica of the times brings not only a stamp of reality to the narrative but also provides the supportive colour to a tale of the times.

Biographical Notes
Horane Smith was born in Jamaica, at the picturesque village of Yardley Chase, St. Elizabeth, home of the legendary tourist attraction Lover’s Leap, the subject of his first novel.

He has had a distinguished career as a journalist, having worked in television, radio, and newspaper for over twenty years, and rose to the position of Assistant Director of Television News for the island’s national broadcaster, the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

A writer all his working life, Horane Smith has been concentrating on creative writing in recent years. His published books range from slavery legends to piracy in the Caribbean, lynchings in America, the Underground Railroad movement, and Jamaica’s most invisible export – reggae music.

His first novel Lover’s Leap: Based on the Jamaican Legend, was published to international acclaim in the U.K. in 1999, and to date is one of the island’s best-selling novels. He has also written Port Royal, a story about the pirates who made the infamous city their home; Underground to Freedom, a story of the Underground Railroad when thousands of American slaves sought freedom in Canada. The Lynching Stream is another of his novels that focuses on American history, recapturing a time when thousands of innocent people, mostly blacks, were lynched in the United States.

Reggae Silver is his first contemporary work of fiction. Dubbed the greatest reggae story ever told, the novel tells how one ambition Jamaican singer vowed to become the biggest reggae superstar since Bob Marley, despite his imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. Dawn at Lover’s Leap, Horane Smith’s sixth novel, has just been released and is the sequel to the popular Lover’s Leap: Based on the Jamaican Legend.

Horane Smith has been described as “prolific…growing from strength to strength…no ordinary novelist…and one of our best emerging writers.

He’s the first recipient of the BURLA Awards for his outstanding contribution to African-Canadian and Caribbean Literature. He has also been recognized by the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation Canada for his outstanding contribution to Jamaican literature.

For more information about his books, visit www.horanesmith.com

About the author

Staff Writer