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  • The Ladies are Upstairs

  • By Merle Collins
  • Pages 160
  • ISBN 9781845232801
  • From the 1930s to the new century, Doux Thibaut, one of Merle Collins’ most memorable characters, negotiates a hard life on the Caribbean island of Paz. As a child there is the shame of poverty and illegitimacy, and there are the hazards of sectarianism in an island divided between Catholic and Protestant, the rigidity of a class and racial system where, if you are black, your white employer is always right—and only the ladies live upstairs. Doux confronts all such challenges with style and hidden steel. We leave Doux as an old lady moving between the homes of her children in Boston and New York, wondering whether they and her grandchildren really appreciate what her engagement with life has taught her. In these tender and moving stories, Merle Collins demands that we do not forget such lives. If ghosts appear in several of the later stories, they are surely there to warn that amnesia about the past can leave disturbed and restless spirits behind. In addition to the Doux stories, this collection restores to print an earlier ‘Paz’ story, “Rain Darling”, and their juxtaposition contrasts two very different responses to the hazards of life.