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The View from Belmont

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.

£8.99

Author(s)
Kevyn Alan Arthur
ISBN
9781900715027
Pages
222
Price
£8.99
Classification
Historical fiction, Fiction, Novels
Setting
Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom
Date published
1 Sep 1997

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.

Vladimir Barac and Susan Wanlass write in The Caribbean Writer: 'Although The View from Belmont is in essence Clara’s story, written in the genteel style of nineteenth-century English novels, comic relief is provided by the spontaneous responses of contemporary Trinidadians in their light-hearted vernacular joking, and this makes for very enjoyable reading. What is most remarkable about Arthur’s novel, however, is that, as a male writer, he has chosen to present the island’s history from distinctly female perspective. This refreshingly new feminist perspective alone makes the novel well worth reading. And though his work sometimes wanders off into rather salacious eroticism, Arthur definitely does keep the reader’s attention.

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Kevyn Alan Arthur

Kevyn Arthur, born in Barbados, 1942, writes: "Spent boyhood in Trinidad and Barbados, which taught me at a very early age that truth, identity, values, differ from place to place, so naturally I eventually started writing poetry and fiction, published mainly in Bim. Worked as a chemist in Trinidad then variously as a writer for radio, newspaper and advertising, semi-pro photographer, and was a member of Derek Walcott’s Theatre Workshops, before getting a journalism scholarship to Ohio University, [1967], did general honours degree then won a scholarship to Yale Graduate School, did a Master’s degree in Philosophy; became an Oriental rug dealer/reweaver, adjunct University lecturer in English language, literature, Afro-American Lit., Philosophy - philosophy/history of science - Caribbean history."

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