Can you feel it? The sway of the hips when the horn plays and the jazz soloist begins her rendition of soul stirring melodies that reach way down deep into the quiet spaces of your heart to take hold and rest there...until it cresendo's to a thumping beat and you feel as if your body is not your own, moving and stepping in ways you never imagined possible?
These are the feelings one encounters when reading Rhythms by Donna Hill.
This was the deep satisfaction and knowing that every page was worth the turn that one can compare to great organic French chocolate with is melt-in-your mouth creamy goodness, or the close-your-eyes-with-satisfaction at inhaling the citrus aroma of a perfectly pulled French press of Ethiopian Yigarchaffe, or the exhale of air and head-on-the-pillows-satisfaction of encountering love with your soul lover, these are the emotions of this book.
Set lightly against the backdrop of history from the first generation past slavery to the middle stirrings of the fight for equal rights, you will take a journey along the path of one family of women who exude strength, beauty, and character. From the Mississippi Delta to the Big Apple, you will follow dreams, cry at heartache, and smile at redemption.
If you think you know southern black women because you read The Help, think again. Come to the other side of the tracks and meet the women before, during, and after the time period of Kathryn Stockett's novel. You will travel further into Mississippi than the metropolis of Jackson, to the dusty backroads and deep cadence of a deep baritone preacher. Finding the hopes of possibility and the fortitude to stand up, you will love this book.
Pearl, Cora, Emma, and Parris held up a mirror to my soul and reminded me of my own ties and generations of strong women, Priscilla-Gladys-Aloyse-Antona-Kiden & Keziah.
Dreams never die and some take another generation to be fulfilled, all buoyed by the rhythm of the soul and the whisper of a mother's confession. Freedom and relief, forgiveness and refreshment are all part of the journey to realization that the secret you thought would destroy your life is actually the liberation you needed to free your heart!
This book has found a home on my permanent bookshelf, a treasure I found while perusing my own volumes of undiscovered literature, almost forgotten through a long-ago "bargain" purchase at one of the big stores, this novel deserves top billing of black female literary classics and is being rediscovered. Written by a promising novelist and published originally in 2001, perhaps before the world was ready for the hope. This is one worth getting to know.
I will say, however, that I was left a little hungry, a little wanting in the ending, wondering what happened, where would the next generation go and if the two living in Paris and Mississippi ever found connection and acceptance. Perhaps that is what a novel is supposed to do, leave you wanting more.
Donna Hill is a skilled wordsmith, bending and twisting the language the same way the musicians forced the notes to new heights, it was felt, really something a great novel must do. This book is being re-released with a different, more sensuous cover, but don't let that stop you from the purchase, the way I remember this book is the way the swirls of time connected the generations as featured on the cover of my copy.
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