Set in the 1920’s-1930’s and shifting between southern and northern states, Glorious explores the lives of African American authors through the eyes of a fictional character, Easter Bartlett.
After a series of family disasters, Easter Bartlett leaves her home in Waycross, Georgia at a young age with no certain destination in mind. As years go by, Easter “flies” through jobs and locations: an assistant to a vaudeville dancer, Rain, in a traveling circus, a teacher in a Church-owned school and so on. Her travels are propelled by betrayals – which are often caused by unscrupulous behavior on her part – that cause her to move on. Through it all, Easter’s constant is her writing and her ability to create beauty on paper at a time when most assumed that ‘colored’ folk were all illiterate.
Following a scandal at a school where she taught, Easter winds up in Harlem on the eve of the Harlem Renaissance. It is in Harlem where Easter’s talent becomes apparent to others, due in part to her writing for a local newspaper. With a rich benefactor, Meredith Tomas, backing her work, Easter seems poised for glory as the rubs elbows with the likes of Langston Hughes; she looks to have a piece of the notoriety awarded others by the Renaissance. But, in a flash, Easter’s world comes tumbling down and the final, irreversible betrayal sends her back to her meager beginnings.
Glorious is a story that needs to be told, one of the terrible inequality experienced by African American authors despite their supposed freedoms. In the betrayal that affects her writing career, Easter has no recourse and no credibility simply because she’s black and her “opponent” is wealthy and white.
At times, I wished that the novel was more fleshed out. I felt that just as I was becoming interested in a particular story line and the surrounding characters, that part of Easter’s life would abruptly end and the story would move on to the next segment. These transitions felt too brief and there was much that was left to the imagination, which some may find to be a positive aspect. However, McFadden does an immense job of incorporating historical figures and events with fictional ones, blending the distinctions to the point where Easter Bartlett feels as real as pianist Fats Waller, or the shipping heiress Nancy Cunard. The speed at which the story moves can be off-putting at times is beneficial at others. I believe that Easter’s life was meant to read as a whirlwind of events, and have a sort of poof-and-its-gone quality to it, and the novel’s brevity definitely contributes to this effect.
Please visit Bernice McFadden’s website for more information on her and her books.
I have 2 autographed copies of Glorious to give away, courtesy of the author!
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Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Bernice L. McFadden. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.