Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: De Bruine Zeemeermin by Annel de Nore

De Bruine Zeemeermin (the brown mermaid) is a swirling Caribbean Surniaamse novel about a family. The chapters, are each written from a different perspective, they tell a somewhat melancholy story of several women whose histories are closely intertwined. Each of them has their own way of dealing with the traditional unwritten laws of the 'system' of sexual infidelity and women their spouses are cheating on with. The central figure is Ingrid, a woman trapped in a relationship with a man who mistreats her. Marjorie, her daughter, suffers most as a child and shuts herself off emotionally to protect herself. When she discovers that her mother had a secret love , it causes a turning point in her life

Grade:         A

What I love about this book is how (not counting the prologue) the story is divided into 10 parts (relatively short). Each part is told from one of the characters (women's) perspective. There are  3 women and we get to read their experiences as they fulfill different roles. We read Marjory's story as a child and later as a woman. Ingrid's story as a woman, an aunt and mother. 

Ingrid's husband often gets drunk and comes home and abuses her. This has happened countless times . This time she leaves and takes her children with her. Marjory (her daughter)  she leaves with her brother and wife, her son she takes with her to her other brother.  She gets a lot of support from her family always. Her brother Roy has had enough and wants her to get a divorce. Ingrid stays at her brother Frankie's and experiences the luxury of not having to clean a house or watch the children. A second of not being a housewife , of being independent. In the end the woman ( moron) goes back to her husband, who promises not to drink anymore.   I don't understand this or why so many woman always go back.

Ingrid's decision to move back in with her husband ruins the relationship with her daughter. Marjory never forgives her father and never understood why her mother chose to go back. The family is together ,yet there's so much guilt and loneliness. Marjory grows up then leaves for the Netherlands. She's become an independent woman and would like to stay that way.

The writing is pretty simple and understandable. I loved the story about the mermaid. 

Some of the parts started with excerpts from other books about feminism or women in general. Some of those excerpt pissed me off .

"She  was created to be the toy of man, his rattle, and it must jingle in his ear whenever, dismissing reason, he chooses to be amused" Mary Wollstnoecraft, " A Vindication of the Rights of Women',

"I'm admired because I do everything right. I cook, sew, knit, talk, work and fuck right. So I am a valuable post. Without me he would suffer.With him I'm alone"  Christine Billson, "You Can Touch Me"

Ingrid gives up being happy to go back and live with her drunk husband. I don't understand , I don't think I'll ever understand her sacrifice. Did she do it for her children? who grew up resenting her and avoiding her, emotionally.  Did she do it because she still loved her husband? who promised not to drink anymore but still ended up dying of lever cancer? I think she made the wrong decision. A divorce would have been better. 

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