The History of Mary Prince by Mary Prince
Five words from the blurb: black, slave, Caribbean, London, document
The History of Mary Prince was the first narrative of a black woman to be published in English. There is no doubting its historical significance and the role it played in the abolition of the slave trade, but I’m afraid I don’t think it is worth seeking out.
I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but I remember receiving it through the post and being surprised at how thin it is. Mary Price’s story takes up just 31 pages and the rest of this 113 page, £8.99 Penguin Classic is made up of supplemental information, much of which is repeated several times.
Mary Prince’s story reads like a police statement. It is rushed, gives the briefest of details, and lacks any emotion. If you are studying slavery then this is an important document, but if you’re looking for an entertaining read I suggest you look elsewhere.
419 by Will Ferguson
Five words from the blurb: Africa, criminal, Internet, corruption, scam
419 is an intelligent thriller that investigates 419 Internet scams originating from Nigeria. It started off well, but lost its way towards the middle of the book. It felt disjointed and some of the plot twists didn’t feel realistic. I also felt that the parts set in Nigeria were far more interesting than those set in Canada.
This book contained several interesting ideas, but if you are looking for a great book on 419 scams I think I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is head and shoulders above Will Ferguson’s.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Five words from the blurb: death, impulsive, walk, heal, life
Cheryl Strayed was just 26 when her mother died of cancer. Her marriage collapsed and her life fell apart. She began taking drugs and she struggled to find happiness. In an effort to put her life back on track she decided to trek 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail; from the Mojave Desert to Washington State.
Cheryl was an infuriating narrator. As I read her story I swung from deep sympathy (for the loss of her mother), to anger and frustration (at her selfishness, affairs and drug taking). She was naive and stupid, but I admired her determination. In the end the great thing about this book is how inspirational it is – if she can turn her life around in this way, anyone can.
It was an entertaining read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for some hope and inspiration.