Gardam, Jane. Black Faces, White Faces. New York: Abacus, 1975.
Reason read: Gardam’s birth month is July.
Black Faces, White Faces loosely links together ten short stories, all taking place in Jamaica; all involving vacationing Brits completely out of their comfort zones. What is special about Black Faces is that Gardam interlocks details as well as characters. For example, a character in one story leaves behind a toy. Another character from another story finds it.
“Babe Jude” – encountering crude vacationers & a language barrier.
“Missus Moon” – foreigners witnessing a funeral.
“Best Day of My Easter Holidays” – a boy’s essay about meeting crazy man Jolly Jackson.
“The Pool Boy” – Lady Fletcher doesn’t want to be so prim and proper.
“The Weeping Child” – Mrs. Ingram tells the story of the ghost of someone who is still alive.
The House Above Newcastle” -Newlyweds Boofey and Pussy are unrecognizable to each other on their honeymoon.
“Saul Alone” – a sad story about a stroke victim observing the people around him.
“The First Declension” – a wife suspects her husband of having an affair while he visits Jamaica.
“Something To tell the Girls” – two teachers on holiday in the mountains of Jamaica.
“Monique” – a woman mourning the loss of her lover.
Quotes I liked: from “Babe Jude” – “He foresaw an agitated lunch and felt depressed” (p 6), from “Best Day of My Easter Holidays” – “We seemed somehow after a very long time to get back to the same place, I don’t know how” (p 19), and from “The Weeping Child” – “Imagination was her rarest occupation” (p 34).
Author fact: Gardam is a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Literature and an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Book trivia: Black Faces was a little harder to get from a library. I requested my copy from the Boston Public Library.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Jane Gardam: Too Good To Miss” (p 96).