Mar 31, Hana rated it really liked it Shelves: I wavered between a three and four stars for this one. A powerful and moving finale, as well as vivid descriptions of Britain's disastrous first Afghan war, earned this its fourth star. Set in India and Afghanistan in the early days of Queen Victoria's reign , Beyond All Frontiers tells the story of a young and very innocent girl, Charlotte Scott, who comes to India to meet her barely remembered parents--and to be married off.
Charlotte Scott's terrible insecurities and the flush of her I wavered between a three and four stars for this one.
Charlotte Scott's terrible insecurities and the flush of her first infatuation are well drawn, but the first half of the book suffers from uneven pacing and unclear motivations Is her mother really that senseless? How can she not see what that handsome rake, Dupres, is doing to her daughter? Both Charlotte and Richard Lingarde the man she marries are so uncertain, immature and tongue-tied that they grow a bit tiresome. The dialog is made to carry too great an expository burden and often seems stilted. Fortunately, the book finds its stride a full-out gallop at about the halfway mark and never slows til the finish line.
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The sheer stupidity and ultimate horrors of the First Anglo-Afghan war are depicted brilliantly. Richard and Charlotte's love is tested, broken and painfully rebuilt in a way that is very moving.
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Bloody and unsparing descriptions of starvation, winter horrors, war, torture. Mature sexual themes that are delicately handled I was quite delighted at how Drummond managed to get all the feelings right with nary a body part named! View all 7 comments. Aug 04, Sherron rated it it was amazing Shelves: I'm still thinking about and savoring this wonderful story. View all 12 comments. Jul 07, Barb in Maryland rated it really liked it Shelves: Absolutely first rate historical fiction.
Set in India and Afghanistan during the mid 's. M Kaye as my benchmark for all Pre-Partition British Raj historical fiction and it being one of my most favorite sub-genres, I had high expectations and anticipation for this book. The first half of it had me convinced that I'd hit gold and this book was almost as good as Kaye's work, but once the Afghanistan part comes into play, the story starts doddering and somehow quite doesn't recover its previous high tenor. The characters are well crafted, perfectly fit the storyline and so is their logical development with the story's progression.
I really liked Richard in the first half who is wonderful not exactly Alex Randell but near enough but the second half transforms him into something else completely, understandably, but on a shaky footing, very understandably again, but it's a bit of a let down as his story doesn't quite resonate that much by then though I did care about his tale. As with other such stories, the heroine transforms from the opinionated, oft misguided and making-the-reader-angry-with-her-attitude miss to a lady worthy of admiration after her experiences but here too Charolette is perfectly presented in the first half as per the storyline and not that much in the 2nd half, so she doesn't really get my admiration in her final self.
Its like I didn't quite feel the force of the characters in the end as I should have. However, it's well written, easy to read, not bogged with unnecessary details, not hard to follow, engrossing but quite hard to put down. Although it's pretty light on the historical details as compared to other such books some of which get bogged down with the historical aspect like Zemindar , it has enough to give a clear picture of the events and happenings. But I found that because it's light on such details and with the 'ordeals' not being overly explained, the 'ordeals' don't 'horrify' for long to resonate into 'harrowing'.
Overall, I went from really enjoying it to just liking it by the end as I found certain elements which I didn't care for, like the treatment and handling of non-English characters and the 'physical' aspect of the story, which is a driving factor of the story, fair enough, but I didn't like it's mention in Richard's final chapters as it seemed redundant as it didn't figure much into his future and seems misplaced.
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All in all, I'm glad that I've read this book and might try another from the author. Sep 18, JoBeth rated it it was amazing. If you enjoy historical novels of the British Raj, this is a novel for you.
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As French and Lessing do in their novels, Angelou employs the narrator as protagonist and depends upon "the illusion of presence in their mode of signification". As a displaced girl, Maya's pain is worsened by an awareness of her displacement. She is "the forgotten child", and must come to terms with "the unimaginable reality" of being unloved and unwanted;  she lives in a hostile world that defines beauty in terms of whiteness and that rejects her simply because she is a Black girl. Maya internalizes the rejection she has experienced — her belief in her own ugliness was "absolute".
Angelou uses her many roles, incarnations, and identities throughout her books to illustrate how oppression and personal history are interrelated. For example, in Caged Bird , Angelou demonstrates the "racist habit"  of renaming African Americans, as shown when her white employer insists on calling her "Mary".
Angelou describes the employer's renaming as the "hellish horror of being 'called out of [one's] name'". Cullinan's favorite dish, but feels vindicated when, as she leaves her employer's home, Mrs. Cullinan finally gets her name right. Contrasted with her experience in Stamps, Maya is finally "in control of her fate". These two incidents give Maya a knowledge of self-determination and confirm her self-worth. Scholar Mary Burgher believes that female Black autobiographers like Angelou have debunked the stereotypes of African-American mothers as "breeder[s] and matriarch[s]", and have presented them as having "a creative and personally fulfilling role".
Maya's feelings for and relationship with her own mother, whom she blames for her abandonment, express themselves in ambivalence and "repressed violent aggression". These strong feelings are not resolved until the end of the book, when Maya becomes a mother herself, and her mother finally becomes the nurturing presence for which Maya has longed. Stamps, Arkansas, as depicted in Caged Bird , has very little "social ambiguity": Kelley calls Caged Bird a "gentle indictment of white American womanhood";  Hagen expands it further, stating that the book is "a dismaying story of white dominance".
Caged Bird has been called "perhaps the most aesthetically satisfying autobiography written in the years immediately following the Civil Rights era". Walker expresses a similar sentiment, and places it in the African-American literature tradition of political protest.
Angelou's autobiographies, beginning with Caged Bird , contain a sequence of lessons about resisting oppression. The sequence she describes leads Angelou, as the protagonist, from "helpless rage and indignation to forms of subtle resistance, and finally to outright and active protest". Walker insists that Angelou's treatment of racism is what gives her autobiographies their thematic unity and underscores one of their central themes: For example, in Angelou's depiction of the "powhitetrash" incident, Maya reacts with rage, indignation, humiliation, and helplessness, but Momma teaches her how they can maintain their personal dignity and pride while dealing with racism, and that it is an effective basis for actively protesting and combating racism.
Angelou portrays Momma as a realist whose patience, courage, and silence ensured the survival and success of those who came after her. Cullinan, her white employer, and, later on in the book, breaks the race barrier to become the first black streetcar operator in San Francisco.
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At first Maya wishes that she could become white, since growing up Black in white America is dangerous; later she sheds her self-loathing and embraces a strong racial identity. Angelou's description of being raped as an eight-year-old child overwhelms the autobiography, although it is presented briefly in the text.
Jacobs and Angelou both use rape as a metaphor for the suffering of African Americans; Jacobs uses the metaphor to critique slaveholding culture, while Angelou uses it to first internalize, then challenge, twentieth-century racist conceptions of the Black female body namely, that the Black female is physically unattractive. Arensberg notes that Maya's rape is connected to the theme of death in Caged Bird , as Mr.
Freeman threatens to kill Maya's brother Bailey if she tells anyone about the rape. After Maya lies during Freeman's trial, stating that the rape was the first time he touched her inappropriately, Freeman is murdered presumably by one of Maya's uncles and Maya sees her words as a bringer of death. As a result, she resolves never to speak to anyone other than Bailey. Angelou connects the violation of her body and the devaluation of her words through the depiction of her self-imposed, five-year-long silence.
African-American literature scholar Selwyn R. Cudjoe calls Angelou's depiction of the rape "a burden" of Caged Bird: She also wanted to prevent it from happening to someone else, so that anyone who had been raped might gain understanding and not blame herself for it. As Lupton points out, all of Angelou's autobiographies, especially Caged Bird and its immediate sequel Gather Together in My Name , are "very much concerned with what [Angelou] knew and how she learned it".
Lupton compares Angelou's informal education with the education of other Black writers of the twentieth century, who did not earn official degrees and depended upon the "direct instruction of African American cultural forms". Angelou is influenced by writers introduced to her by Mrs. Angelou states, early in Caged Bird , that she, as the Maya character, "met and fell in love with William Shakespeare". Vermillion maintains that Maya finds comfort in the poem's identification with suffering. She is so involved in her fantasy world of books that she even uses them as a way to cope with her rape,  writing in Caged Bird , " I was sure that any minute my mother or Bailey or the Green Hornet would bust in the door and save me".
According to Walker, the power of words is another theme that appears repeatedly in Caged Bird. For example, Maya chooses to not speak after her rape because she is afraid of the destructive power of words. Flowers, by introducing her to classic literature and poetry, teaches her about the positive power of language and empowers Maya to speak again.
The public library is a "quiet refuge" to which Maya retreats when she experiences crisis. Angelou was also powerfully affected by slave narratives , spirituals , poetry, and other autobiographies. In Caged Bird , Mrs. Flowers encourages her to listen carefully to "Mother Wit",  which Hagen defines as the collective wisdom of the African-American community as expressed in folklore and humor.
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Angelou's humor in Caged Bird and in all her autobiographies is drawn from Black folklore and is used to demonstrate that in spite of severe racism and oppression, Black people thrive and are, as Hagen states, "a community of song and laughter and courage". These elements include the act of testimony when speaking of one's life and struggles, ironic understatement, and the use of natural metaphors, rhythms, and intonations. Hagen also sees elements of African American sermonizing in Caged Bird. Angelou's use of African-American oral traditions creates a sense of community in her readers, and identifies those who belong to it.
The other volumes in her series of seven autobiographies are judged and compared to Caged Bird. By the end of , critics had placed Angelou in the tradition of other Black autobiographers. Poet James Bertolino asserts that Caged Bird "is one of the essential books produced by our culture". He insists that "[w]e should all read it, especially our children". Gross called Caged Bird "a tour de force of language". Bedes Secondary School in Kom, Besong was admitted to the University of Calabar where he published his maiden collection of poems titled Polyphemous Detainee and Other Skulls in before he graduated.
While at the university, Bate Besong and Ba'bila Mutia founded Oracle, a journal of poetry edited by students. Realising that his emerging reputation as a budding writer was giving him recognision as a Nigerian and compromising his Cameroonian identity, Besong returned to Cameroon after completing his MA. In , shortly after his play Beasts of No Nation was staged, Besong was kidnapped and tortured by state security agents who took him to an unknown location from where he was later released when news of his kidnapping became public.
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