Jessamine by Eugenia O'Neal

Genre: Novel / Fiction

Apologies. I could not find the ISBN for the book anywhere and neither its price. I read the e book.

EXCERPT: (Talking about the mango tree in their yard,)

' “You’d never know to look at them that they’re diseased,” I marvel.
“A metaphor for the island and its politics. Let me go get your luggage.”  '

SWARNALI SPEAKS: Jessamine is the tale of two women, from two different time periods coming together for the same cause. The similarities in the lives of the two women are numerous,and so is their zeal for the change that they strive for. Jessamine is the beautiful mansion they both live in. Grace's life is in the present,she has come to stay in the island of St. Crescens to live with her husband,Julian. Arabella is a character from the past,from the 1800,she comes to the island in search of a livelihood. How their paths cross and how they interact with each other is very interesting.
The author uses a double narrative pattern in autobiographical style where her two protagonists speak for themselves and at times for the other. The chapters are alternately named Arabella and Grace for the readers to understand who the speaker is. There are times when the two narratives coalesce which provides complexity to the narrative.
The book reminded me very much of Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea in its description of the island of St. Crescens. The detailed description of the place,its people,the very strong racist feel than runs through the novel is very similar to Rhys' book.
The author very successfully gains the readers' "willful suspension of disbelief" from the very beginning. Arabella begins by saying, "We have a lot in common, we two, though she is alive and I am not." The very element of super-naturalism begins from here as the reader anticipates its arrival next in the book. What is commendable is that the reader never for once questions the validity of the existence of the spirit of Arabella and her communication with Grace. The two women are portrayed very efficiently with different layers of their personality defined and analysed. The central metaphor of the book is the mango tree in the yard of the house which is viral infected and produces mangoes which look healthy outside but are rotten inside,representing the political turmoil in the island.
The only thing I didn't like about the book is the strong political influence, the corruption and crime that is harped over and over. It becomes a bit tedious after sometime for politics isn't something I like reading much about. Somebody interested in politics might have a different opinion. 
Overall,an enjoyable and informative read. 

MY RATING: 4 / 5


  1. sounds interesting !!
    nice review post :)

  2. Thanks for the lovely review! I really appreciate it!

  3. @Eugenia_I really liked the book,it was a pleasure reading it :)


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