Excerpt from Cane River by Lalita Tademy, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Cane River

by Lalita Tademy

Cane River
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2001, 418 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2002, 560 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"I understand your discomfort, my dear, but the best church is a church nearby." Louis waved Suzette over for more blood pudding, and she hurried to his place at the head of the table.

"At least St. Augustine draws the best of the gens de couleur libre," Françoise conceded. "They do have the proper respect for whites so crucial for the smooth running of a community. Thank goodness they don't consider themselves white, but they certainly don't consider themselves Negro, either."

The children at the table, including Oreline and Narcisse, sat quiet, as demanded, listening to the adults talk, joining in only for the singing after the meal.

Midday the Fredieus left Rosedew to return to their own plantation.

Later that evening Suzette helped Oreline undress for bed.

"Mam'zelle Oreline, would you teach me reading?"

"I cannot, Suzette. You must stop asking. You know as well as I do that you are not allowed. Besides, it is no good for you to try to learn something so hard. Your ideas are wicked."

"Just a few words? My name?"

"I will not," Oreline insisted.

"What if we don't tell?"

"No. Aunt Françoise would be very angry if she found out. Why would you want to read, anyway? Even Aunt Françoise doesn't know how."

Suzette stopped to consider. The Derbannes had taken Oreline in when her parents died, and Oreline would never disobey either Françoise or Louis. Still, she persisted. "In church today, I could not follow what the priest said."

"He talks most of the time in Latin," Oreline said. "Nobody understands."

"But I want to take communion. Old Bertram went inside the church today, like everyone else."

"You do not have to know how to read to take communion. I can ask Aunt Françoise to give her permission for you to take classes when I do. Besides, I will always be around if there is something to be read."

Oreline gave Suzette a secret, reassuring side glance when Françoise came in to lead the two girls in bedtime prayers. "Aunt Françoise, can Suzette take communion with me?"

Françoise looked from one girl to the other. "First communion is not until you are twelve, and requires serious study to get ready."

"I would help her," said Oreline.

"Your behavior today did not show you as a very good follower of Christ, Suzette," Françoise said. "You have failed to be properly obedient."

"I can be good, Madame Françoise. I do want to take communion, like Mam'zelle Oreline. Old Bertram told me he was confirmed when he was a boy."

"We will see how you conduct yourself." Françoise sat in the cane-bottom chair beside the four-poster bed, perched tentatively, as if prepared for any turn of events. "Oreline, tonight you will start to learn the Lord's Prayer."

Oreline repeated each passage after her aunt, and then Françoise kissed her niece lightly on the forehead. "When you are ready to be confirmed, you will wear a beautiful white dress and a veil, and I will get you your own rosary beads." Françoise looked to Suzette, standing near the foot of the bed. "And you, Suzette. If you apply yourself, you can rise above your mother and the others in the quarter." She straightened her skirts and prepared to retire to her own room. "Time for bed. Good night."

Suzette made her rounds of the big house, pulling the drapes, emptying the spittoons, and gathering everyone's dirty laundry. She checked on each member of the household to see if they needed her for anything before she returned to Oreline's room, where she blew out the candles and pulled out her pallet from under the bed.

Early the next morning, on her ninth birthday, before the household stirred, she made her way to Françoise Derbanne's favorite rosebush.

Copyright © 2001 by Lalita Tademy.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.