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Victoire

Victoire

My Mother's Mother

Translated by: Richard Philcox
  • reading group guide
The critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the classic historical novel Segu, Maryse Condé has pieced together the life of her maternal grandmother to create a moving and profound novel.

Maryse Condé's personal journey of discovery and revelation becomes ours as we learn of Victoire, her white-skinned mestiza grandmother who worked as a cook for the Walbergs, a family of white Creoles, in the French Antilles.

Using her formidable skills as a storyteller, Condé describes her grandmother as having "Australian whiteness for the color of her skin...She jarred with my world of women in Italian straw bonnets and men necktied in three-piece linen suits, all of them a very black shade of black. She appeared to me doubly strange."

Victoire was spurred by Condé's desire to learn of her family history, resolving to begin her quest by researching the life of her grandmother. While uncovering the circumstances of Victoire's unique life story, Condé also comes to grips with a haunting question: How could her own mother, a black militant, have been raised in the Walberg's home, a household of whites?

Creating a work that takes readers into a time and place populated with unforgettable characters that inspire and amaze, Condé's blending of memoir and imagination, detective work and storytelling artistry, is a literary gem that readers won't soon forget.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 208 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439100585 | 
  • January 2010
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Victoire includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Maryse Conde. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

In her new novel, Victoire, Maryse Conde, acclaimed author of Segu, examines the relationship between her mother, a black militant, and her grandmother, a light-skinned cook who spent her life working as the servant of a white family. Victoire Quidal did her best to turn her own unfortunate circumstances into a better life for her daughter – a life of choice rather than one of silent compliance. But as Jeanne takes advantage of the opportunities that her mother worked so hard to provide, including receiving one of the best educations available to a female at the time, the two women slowly become emotionally estranged.

An intoxicating blend of fact and fiction set in the exotic and sensual swelter of Guadeloupe, Maryse Conde combines her meticulous genealogical research with imagined renderings of significant family events. The result provides the reader with a fascinating account of the tenuous but ultimately unbreakable bond shared between a mother and her daughter, as well as the universal ties tha see more

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About the Author

Maryse Conde
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Maryse Conde

Maryse Condé is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including Crossing the Mangrove, Segu, Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?, and I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem. She lives in New York and Montebello, Guadeloupe.

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