By Yolande Degand
Vantage Press, NY. $15.95
This strange novel reads more like a biography, and, given the jacket cover's description of the author, it wouldn't be surprising were it autobiographical. ALWAYS COMES THE MORNING is the story of Antoinette, a beautiful Haitian woman, born of Haitian-Syrian parents in 1931. Her life is high tragedy. It is a constant stream of tragic evens, sprinkled with moments of joy. The bulk of her tragedy is related to the fact that she is physically beautiful, thus desired by many men.
However, the more interesting theme for me was the contrast between Antoinette's economic possibilities in Haiti and the United States. Antoinette's family was not well off when she was a young girl in Haiti, but she constantly takes a very small capital (a few dollars the first time), and builds successful businesses. Time after time she is cheated out of her success by unscrupulous family members, lovers and friends. Nonetheless, she finds a bit more capital and plunges successfully into yet another business, each one quite different from the other. In Haiti she is never poor for long.
However, in her mid-years she lives some 15 years in the United States and always works a low-level wage labor, never even attempting to enter business for herself. This was a most curious contrast. I kept wondering how did this rich entrepreneurial spirit we saw in Haiti fail to come to the fore in New York. Perhaps it was that it takes more capital to begin in New York, perhaps it was the language barrier in her earliest days. Whatever it was, it does present a very strange contrast of ways to be in the world.
The novel doesn't at all read like a novel. There is no central crisis and resolving denouement. Rather, it reads very much like what I suspect it really is -- an autobiography only slightly covered over with fictional details.
It's not great reading, nor a particularly unusual story. Too many people live lives of constant tragedy like the main character, Antoinette. But, it is an interesting picture of life among the Haitian-Syrians, and among the rising middle class in Haiti during the middle years of this century.
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