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Anansi Spring 2012

Sugar in the Blood
A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire
By (author): Andrea Stuart
Andrea Stuart


Portobello Books



Product Form:



General Trade
Aug 15, 2012
$34.95 CAD
No longer our product


9.2in x 6.1 x 0.7 in | 1.42 lb

Page Count:

336 pages
Portobello Books
HISTORY / Caribbean & West Indies / General

In the 1640s, Andrea Stuart's earliest known maternal ancestor set sail from England, lured by the promise of the New World, to settle in Barbados where he fell by chance into the lucrative life of a sugar plantation owner. With George Ashby's first crop, the cane revolution was underway and would go on to transform the Caribbean into an archipelago of riches, establishing a thriving worldwide industry that bound together ambitious white entrepreneurs and enslaved black workers.

As it grew, this sweet colonial trade fuelled the Enlightenment and financed the Industrial Revolution, but it also had more direct, less palatable consequences for the individuals caught up in it, consequences that still haunt the author's past. In this unique personal history, Andrea Stuart follows the thread of her own family's involvement with sugar through successive generations, telling a story of insatiable greed and forbidden love, of abuse and liberation.

Andrea Stuart was born and raised in the Caribbean and the US. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and French at the Sorbonne. Her first book, Showgirls (Jonathan Cape, 1996), a collective biography of showgirls from Colette, to Marlene Dietrich to Madonna, was adapted into a two-part documentary for the Discovery Channel in 1998 and has since inspired a theatrical show, a contemporary dance piece and a number of burlesque performances. Her second book, The Rose of Martinique: A Biography of Napoleon's Josephine (Macmillan, 2003) was translated into several languages and won the Enid McLeod Literary Prize in 2004. She is writer-in-residence at Kingston University and teaches at the Faber Academy.

Much of the fiery magic of this book arises from Stuart’s ability to knit together her imaginative speculations with family research, secondary sources and the work of historians of the region... Stuart spins this rich material into a colorful and complicated narrative. There is not a single boring page in this book... in every chapter of “Sugar in the Blood,” history, fact, analysis and personal reflection combine to move the narrative forward, both the grand story of slavery and sugar and the more mundane but always fascinating story of family and business. And beneath every banal moment of cooking or cleaning, of selling or buying, of dressing or undressing, the threat of uprising and rebellion beats loudly, as it must have done on the plantation. - Amy Wilentz, New York Times

... a finely honed family history... - Julie Ann Grimm, Santa Fe New Mexican

... a vivid exploration of the terrible costs of sugar cultivation on the island of Barbados and far beyond. - Barbara Spindel, Barnes and Noble

Partly a narrative of one family’s complicated tree, partly a meditation on larger historical forces, “Sugar in the Blood” is wholly satisfying. Stuart tells a sweeping story freighted with devastating detail... and thoughtfully imagines her ancestors’ lives. - Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

... [an] invaluable approach of demystifying history, turning our attention away from kings and queens and reifying abstract forces like slavery and empire. - Eric Herschthal, Daily Beast

An intractable, unwieldy story both intimate and universal, handled expertly by Stuart. - Kirkus Reviews

A superb feat of research and memory ... sometimes harrowing, always fascinating ... astonishingly readable, [Stuart's] elegant, thoughtful style the perfect foil for often shocking material. - Herald

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