Here’s the thing, whenever I’m reading Jane Harris' work, it’s not that I don’t enjoy every single finely-crafted moment, but it’s only when the novels end that I tend to look back and find myself truly immersed in the stories’ themes, the settings, the plots, the characters. Moments come back to haunt me. Images flood into my mind. And, I think, what I’m trying to express, is that the work has a certain quality that is ‘classic’, lasting, and profound.
Her latest novel, Sugar Money, is certainly no exception.
Set in 1765, this is a story based on fact, following the adventures of two slaves, Emile and Lucien, the brothers who are sent away from their island home of Martinique to Grenada, with the secret task of smuggling 42 stolen slaves back to their original master; the Frenchman, Father Cleophas.
The novel is vibrantly alive with a cast of engaging characters, but throughout it is narrated in the voice of the younger Lucien, whose bawdily unique language is as joyous as his spirit, albeit with a naivety that eventually will be addressed ~ because Jane Harris is not an author afraid of pulling punches. How could she be when the theme of this novel is slavery, theft, brutality? A scenario in which some dreadful horrors have to be endured. But what endures above all else is the humanity, the love and hope, the instinct for survival, for freedom, also dignity.
That message is as important now as it was 200 years ago. Black Lives Matter. This book matters ~ as you will soon discover, when it’s published by Faber & Faber on October 5, 2017.
For more information on Jane Harris and her novels, please see her author website