No Crystal Stair

No Crystal Stair

Book - 1997
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Publisher: Toronto : Moulin Pub., c1997.
ISBN: 9781896867021
1896867022
Branch Call Number: SARSF
Characteristics: 247 p.

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From Library Staff

List - The Book of Negroes
OttawaReads Mar 19, 2018

This CBC Canada Reads selection follows Marion Willow, a Black widow living in Montreal
during the 1940s, as she raises her three daughters and works various jobs. Marion faces
segregation and discrimination, but also moments of great joy – such as seeing Oscar Peterson
play in Westmount’s Victor... Read More »

Set in Quebec during the 1940s, this novel tells the story of one woman’s attempts to raise and educate her daughters in a sometimes hostile world, while also providing a glimpse into the social life of the jazzy, cosmopolitan city of Montreal.

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MissAnnie Feb 19, 2013

Evokes the atmosphere of pre-WW II Montreal and gives us an inside view of what is what like to be Black in that City at that time. The characters are proud, resilient and lovable.


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a
aimiller
Jul 08, 2017

So I want to say upfront that I read this book mostly because somehow it ended up on my gay reads book list? And uh not to spoil anything, but I did not read any relationships that could be construed as gay, I don't think, unless you're counting the fact that Langston Hughes appears as like a Very Background Character? So if you, like me, had it up on one of those types of lists, uh... not that I could see.

That being said, this is one of those cases where I really really felt like knowing more about Canada in general and Quebec/Montreal in particular would have been helpful? I feel like I've read a lot of reviews where people are like "this is a gross misrepresentation of Black life in Montreal!" and I couldn't tell you if that was true or not. In a lot of ways, it feels like a book that is much older than it is--it was published in 1997, but there's some Baldwin-like aesthetic that Sarsfield really hits on, or maybe the like old melodramas (I'm thinking specifically of Imitation of Life, I think?) I literally flipped to the front matter to see when this book was published like 8 times over the course of reading the book.

But overall, I would say it wasn't a bad book--if that melodrama aesthetic was what Sarsfield was aiming for, I'd say she hit it out of the park in a major way! And if that kind of aesthetic is your thing, you probably really should check out this book! For the rest of us I'd say reading it is not the most necessary thing in the world, but it's not terrible either!

MissAnnie Feb 19, 2013

Evokes the atmosphere of pre-WW II Montreal and gives us an inside view of what is what like to be Black in that City at that time. The characters are proud, resilient and lovable.

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