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Gather the Faces

Written by Phyliss Briggs-Emanuel for The Caribbean Writer on no date provided

Like many of Beryl Gilroy’s novels, Gather the Faces, one of her latest works, deals with journeying and the search for identity. It is also a Caribbean romance with a decided spiritual context in which a young woman, Marvella Payne, who has been reared in London, and a young man, Ansel McKay, who has been reared in Guyana, search for and find love and each other. Gilroy sketches the two young people against a background of spirituality and innocence, and creates in Ansel an atypical Caribbean man who lacks the guile, deceit, and irresponsibility of the men found so often in literature and in life.

Indeed, the reader is skeptical about Ansel; he seems too good to be true, and there is the momentary expectation of some dastardly deed such as taking the money Marvella sends him to buy furnishings for their house in Guyana and absconding with it. However, Ansel does what he is supposed to do and prepares a beautiful home filled with the appropriate furnishings and with love for his prospective bride.

Gilroy also employs the extended family as a vital element in the rearing of the young. Marvella’s parents, her aunts, Julie and Mavis, her godsister Sherri, and her godmother Monica all buttress and support Marvella in her growing-up years and in her relationship with Ansel. Several journeys occur in the novel: Marvella and all of her extended family travel from Guyana to Britain looking for the better economic opportunity; Ansel goes to London on an agricultural scholarship which affords him the chance to meet Marvella for the first time. Marvella travels to Guyana for her wedding that is celebrated with all the traditional Guyanese pomp and customs.

Gather the Faces has a happy ending and is written with Gilroy’s characteristic clarity of description and fluency of language. Its optimism shimmers, its spirituality glows in the beautiful verses quoted from the Biblical Song of Songs, and the reader is revivified as faith in love is restored.

This is a review of Gather the Faces

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