Jamaica Magazine

Girlie : Jamaican Book Review

About the Book :

She was so unimportant that her mother hadn’t bothered to give her a name. So she was known simply as “Girlie.” She was so defiant that she was branded a child of Lucifer. She was berated and abused but she endured her beatings without shedding a tear. Her pride remained undiminished and her spirit unbroken, despite relentless reminders that she was the unwanted bastard child of a  domestic servant.

The love of her life was Bernard, the pampered son of her mother’s employer. They were inseparable childhood companions and inevitably teen-age lovers. He accepted her love without question yet blindly pursued his own romantic illusions. Still, she loved him so much that she would do anything for him, even fulfill his fantasies of forbidden fruit. But did she go too far? Could Bernard rise above the prejudices and taboos of a Colonial society?

Book Review:

Reviewed by Cashana Seals, RAWSISTAZ.com
Love sustains

Bernard was raised in Jamaica in the Black River area by his aunt and spent most of his childhood with the cook’s daughter, Girlie.  As children, they were inseparable and tended to cause a bit of mischief in their wake, however, their friendship was unshakeable.  As they got older and their hormones took over, forces beyond their control deigned to break up the friendship, which had evolved into an intimate relationship.  With Girlie leaving Black River and Bernard going away to college, one would think the relationship will end, but it doesn’t.  From Jamaica to Canada and back, Bernard and Girlie’s path would soon cross again.

GIRLIE is a story about a young, biracial, Jamaican girl who falls in love with a white Jamaican, which is taboo.  Bernard was either too blind or just not emotionally evolved enough to understand Girlie’s love for him.  However, when tragedy and secrets bring Bernard back to Jamaica, he must examine the choices he has made and discover what real love consists of.

This novel has all the elements of romance, but the worldliness of much more.  The story takes place in the eras of civil rights, Vietnam war and the sexual revolution, which gives the novel layers of believability and genuineness.  The characters were well-developed and the plot was intriguing and captivating.  The story makes you laugh and makes you think. Graham draws  readers into the era and the different countries effortlessly and leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end.

About the Author

George Graham was born in Black River, Jamaica, and has worked for half a century as a reporter and editor in the Caribbean, Canada and America. The son of an agricultural instructor, he grew up in Portland and St. Elizabeth. As a 16-year-old student at Munro College, he won a World Youth Forum essay competition and spent several months attending English grammar schools,staying with English families and taking part in various “brains trusts.”

George’s first career venture was as a management trainee at a resort hotel, but he quickly gave that up to try his hand at journalism in Port au Prince, Haiti. After three years in Haiti, he immigrated to Canada and landed a reporting job in Timmins, Ontario, nearly 500 miles north of Toronto. He moved up to the Toronto Star and the Toronto Telegram, and went on to become editor of Toronto Life magazine and senior editor of The Canadian, a weekend supplement carried by newspapers across Canada.

George twice returned to work in Jamaica, first for the Industrial Development Corporation, and then for the Jamaica Daily News, where he was one of the founding editors.

In 1979, he moved to Florida, where he joined The Tampa Tribune as a roving columnist. He later became the editor of the daily Clearwater Sun.

George lives in Lakeland, Florida, with his wife, Sandra,three cats, two dogs, and countless squirrels and birds. Sandra is a former magazine and newspaper writer. George has three grown children, Ross, Grace and Christine, and two grandsons, Jonathan and Adam.

Excerpt from Girlie

In the summer of her fifty-fifth year, Grandmother left Grandfather and set off into the mountains to find God. Grandfather followed. When she refused to come home, he dragged her down the mountainside, kicking and screaming and warning of God’s vengeance.

As soon as his back was turned, Grandmother sneaked away into the mountains again, this time choosing the most inaccessible spot she could find. It was days before Grandfather caught up with her; and by that time she had almost completed a wattle-and-daub hut, thatched with palm fronds. It was obvious to Grandfather that unless he was prepared to keep her locked in her room forever, he could not force her to remain in the Great House where she had lived as his wife for more than thirty years.

Then the rainy season started. Grandfather would be risking his life to venture up those hillsides, with the clay as slippery as soap and with jagged rocks waiting below.

“She’s mad,” he conceded at last and stayed home.

Grandmother was tall and blonde, with bright blue eyes, a phenomenon rarely seen outside of German Town. She was sure to attract a crowd whenever she appeared in the village. After weeks in the wilderness, she had returned with God’s message, which she delivered in a booming voice from the middle of the village square. Her head was swathed in a white turban and her gaunt frame was robed entirely in white.

“Repent ye black spawn of Satan,” she admonished the startled villagers. “Repent ye woolly-headed demons from the pit of Hell!”

The villagers took this as a racist remark and stoned her. Grandmother was unabashed.

“They stoned St. Stephen,” she declared. “They crucified St. Peter upside down. It is an honor for me to be persecuted for the Lord’s sake.”

The family visited her in the hospital, of course; and everybody pleaded with her to go home to Grandfather. But she shivered convulsively, and shouted at them in “the unknown tongue” which she explained the Apostles had used at Pentecost.

“Halta, luchia, bambaria,” she declared, her head shaking apoplectically, her eyes staring, her whole body in the grip of some strange force. “Praise the Lord.”

And what could the family say but “Amen”?

Where to Get the Book:
“Girlie,” is available at http://stores.lulu.com/georgeg.

About the author

Staff Writer