Sunday, March 19, 2006

Twice-told tales: a "Tempest" in the Caribbean

From a review by Jennifer Vanderbes in the Washington Post:
In Prospero's Daughter, Elizabeth Nunez's retelling of "The Tempest" set in the 1960s, John Mumsford, a jaded British inspector, is called to investigate a rape on Chacachacare, a small island off Trinidad's coast that is home to a leper colony. Mumsford fears Trinidad's independence-minded natives, so when he learns that a biracial servant has assaulted a white girl, he resolves to carry out justice. Upon arriving he meets Dr. Peter Gardner, a British scientist mysteriously living in exile on the island with his daughter, Virginia. So far as Mumsford can determine, though, no sex act has occurred. The accused, Carlos Codrington, whom Mumsford finds penned and blistering in the sun, simply made the mistake of quoting "The Tempest" while declaring his love for Virginia to Dr. Gardner: "I had peopled else/This isle with Calibans."
The review is a mixed-bag: "Nunez brilliantly sets Carlos's growing ambitions to reclaim his house against the backdrop of the country's independence movement." Also, the reviewer praises the "wonderfully-drawn" setting but complains that the characters lack complexity. Read the entire review.

Learn more about Elizabeth Nunez here.

--Marshal Zeringue

Note: thanks to Kurt van der Walde for bringing this review to my attention.