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""Throughout her life my mother, Doris, lived in two places at once: Kingston, Jamaica, where she raised a family of nine children, and Harvey River, in the parish of Hanover, where she was born and grew up.""
When Doris Harvey's English grandfather, William Harvey, discovers a clearing at the end of a path cut by the feet of those running from slavery, he gives his name to what will become his family's home for generations. For Doris, Harvey River is the place she always called home, the place where she was one of the "fabulous Harvey girls," and where the rich local bounty of Lucea yams, pimentos, and mangoes went hand in hand with the Victorian niceties of her parents' house. It is a place she will return to in dreams when her fortunes change, years later, and she and her husband, Marcus Goodison, relocate to "hard life" Kingston and encounter the harsh realities of urban living in close quarters.
In Lorna Goodison's spellbinding memoir of her forebears, we meet a cast of wonderfully drawn characters, including George O'Brian Wilson, the Irish patriarch of the family who married a Guinea woman after coming to Jamaica in the mid-1800s; Doris's parents, Margaret and David, childhood sweethearts who became the first family of Harvey River; and their eight children, Cleodine, straight-backed and imperious; serious Albertha, called "Miss Jo" because she was missing all sense of joviality; beautiful Howard, who dies an early death; Rose, whose loveliness inspires devotion but whose own heart is never fulfilled; taxi-man Edmund, who yearns for the freedoms of the big city; Flavius, who spends his life searching for the true church of God; large-hearted, practical-minded Doris, whose bottomless cooking pot often feeds more than just her family; and vivacious, hard-headed Ann, whose gift of reading hair tells her the future.
In lush, vivid prose, textured with the cadences of Creole speech, Lorna Goodison weaves together memory and mythology to create a vivid tapestry. She takes us deep into the heart of a complete world to tell a universal story of family and the ties that bind us to the place we call home.