Maryse was the eighth child in her family, an unexpected one. Her father, a civil servant, had been awarded the Legion d’honneur; her elegant mother had been a schoolteacher. She arrived after a difficult pregnancy while the town of La Pointe, Guadeloupe was in the midst of celebrating Mardi Gras. She was raised to appreciate culture, the opera, the great French paintings and was sent to a privately-run school. Hers was a proud family in which appearances, skin tone, language, and class was important, her parents ever mindful of being a part of a world which for centuries had been reserved for Whites only.
In this collection of autobiographical essays, Maryse Cond vividly evokes the relationships and events which gave her childhood meaning: discovering her parents feelings of alienation; her first crush and short-lived romance; a falling out with her best friend over a frank assessment of her beauty; the death of her beloved grandmother when she was nine; an incident at a playground that was her first encounter with racism.
Maryse began to invent a universe of her own at an early age, and these gem-like vignettes capture the spirit of her fiction: haunting, powerful, poignant, and leavened with a streak of humor. They paint a wonderful picture of a little girl trying to find her place in the world, one that is redolent of the music and colors of the Caribbean, as well as of the harsher climate of Paris.
Tales from the Heart was awarded the Prix Yourcenar in 1999 for excellence in French writing by an author who resides in the United States.
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