Me Dying Trial was the first novel published by Jamaican-born author, Patricia Powell. Powell presents the life of rural Jamaican schoolteacher, Gwennie Glaspole. She's married to an often abusive man and has six children, one of whom is the product of an affair with her parents' boarder. Gwennie simply wants a stable, peaceful life for her and her children. She takes an opportunity to get her teacher's certificate as a means to also leave her husband. Gwennie finds more trials in her life as she immigrates to the U.S. without her children in order to work and save money for a home.

The story is told in an omniscient voice which fully reveals the colorful setting and dialect of Jamaica. This voice also helps create a number of layers to the novel like the plight of women being juxtaposed against that of gay men. You have a few strong women like Gwennie who was often silenced by her husband and physically abused, she was never completely submissive and afraid of him.  And her Aunt Cora is a woman who had a rare relationship with her deceased husband as he treated her as his equal as they worked side by side in a store she continued to run on her own after his death. Though being a gay man in Jamaica is extremely taboo, it's very interesting that most of the women  took no issue with homosexuality because there was an apparent empathy with this other oppressed group. As for Gwennie's children, most of the focus was on her son Rudi and daughter Peppy. As they were the two most disconnected from the other siblings, it's natural that they form a bond. These two characters along with Aunt Cora and the abusive husband Walter are where Powell's writing shines. It's where she explores the complexities of family life, how women survive, and every other type of human experience. Peppy's story is one that I think a follow up novel would be appropriate. I enjoyed how invested I felt mostly in her and Gwennie as they have stayed with me after turning the final page.

Women Unbound
POC Reading
African Diaspora



03/22/2010 8:56am

I really enjoyed this review

Comments are closed.