Cover image for At the full and change of the moon : a novel
At the full and change of the moon : a novel
Brand, Dionne, 1953-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
302 pages ; 22 cm
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Written with lyrical fire in a chorus of vividly rendered voices, Dionne Brand's second novel is an epic of the African diaspora across the globe. It begins in 1824 on Trinidad, where Marie-Ursule, queen of a secret slave society called the Sans Peur Regiment, plots a mass suicide. The end of the Sans Puer is also the beginning of a new world, for Marie-Ursule cannot kill her young daughter, Bola -- who escapes to live free and bear a dynasty of descendants who spill out across the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. Haunted by a legacy of passion and oppression, the children of Bola pass through two world wars and into the confusion, estrangement, and violence of the late twentieth century.

Author Notes

Dionne Brand was born in 1953 in Guayguayare, Trinidad and was educated at the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Brand was the founder and editor of Our Lives, Canada's first newspaper for black women. She has also worked on Fuse Magazine, The Harriet Tubman Review, Canadian Women Studies, and Research for Feminist Research. She also belongs to several community organizations including the Immigrant Women's Center and the Caribbean Peoples' Development Agency.

Brand's involvement in politics is prevalent in her books, Chronicles of the Hostile Sun, Rivers Have Sources, Trees Have Roots: Speaking of Racism and Primitive Offensive, and Land to Light On, for which she received a Governor General's Award. Brand has also directed Sister's in Struggle, Long Time Comin' and Older, Stronger, Wiser for the National Film Board of Canada.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The language in these interlocking tales is as rhythmic as waves in the sea, sometimes incantatory: dreamlike or nightmarish. The story begins in 1824, when a slave on the island of Trinidad, Marie-Ursule, poisons herself and her fellow slaves in a desperate act of defiance but spares her little daughter, Bola. Bola's children, by many fathers, travel to the U.S. and Canada, to London and Amsterdam, and spin out their words like nets to catch the heart. Samuel tries to serve in World War I and is broken by it; Cordelia, in her fiftieth year, blooms with desire heavy as a tropical flower; Eula is haunted by her fallen brother and by the daughter, also named Bola, she sent home to Trinidad from far-off Toronto. Ghosts may fill some of the rooms and wander along the shore, but what happens is all in the mind--mystical and mystifying, true and shadowed. Sometimes evocation is simply exquisite, as the depiction of the prostitute Maya sitting in her window in Amsterdam; other times, as the second Bola inhabits the old house in Trinidad with the ghost of her grandmother, it is terrifying. Fabulous in the deepest sense of the word. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Close on the heels of her well-received first novel (In Another Place, Not Here), Brand delivers a distinguished, visionary work, grounded in the language and legacy of her native Trinidad. Intricately structured and lyrically narrated, the novel invokes the powerful influence of hereditary forces on the far-flung descendants of Marie-Ursule, Trinidadian queen of a secret society of militant slaves. In 1823, in a supreme gesture of rebellion, Marie-Ursule orchestrates a mass slave suicide, from which only her young daughter Bola is spared. In her hideaway at an abandoned monastery on the tip of the island, Bola sinks deep into the spirit of the land and the sea. Roused from her reveries when other islanders move nearby, she has nine children with nine different men, none of whom can tame her. She shuttles her children off into the world, and it is their stories and their children's stories that make up the balance of the novel. While some voices are more memorable than others, snippets of memory tie each back to Marie-Ursule or Bola. Private Sones fights in WWI, falling into madness upon his return to the island. Cordelia, a model of maternal decorum until she turns 50, has simultaneous affairs with an "ice-cream-freezer man" and her seamstress. A haunting portrait of a cold, heartless hustler emerges in Priest, who roams from Florida to New York. "He didn't feel any love for anybody.... He watched them to see if they loved him and what they would do for him if they did." The novel ends in the present day and on a poignant note with a schoolgirl named after her great-grandmother Bola mourning her mother's death. Compressing her far-reaching tale in a tight 300 pages, Brand seamlessly fuses individual and collective identities in a work of poetic achievement. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Brand, an award-winning African Canadian poet, novelist, and short story writer, has written a powerful family saga, filled with passion and anguish. It begins in early-19th-century Trinidad with Marie-Ursule, a rebellious slave leader who plots a mass suicide. She cannot kill her daughter Bola, however, and quietly arranges for her escape. It is through Bola and her children, scattered to the four corners of the world, that the real story unfolds. Brand renders their lives in rich, almost lyrical language, offering up a world filled with unique characters: Cordelia, a woman with insatiable desires; Priest, a would-be evangelist turned gangster; Adrian, his younger brother, a hopeless addict; and a second Bola, living alone in the ruins of the family home, talking to the dead. A provocative book; essential for larger public libraries and all black studies collections.ÄJanis Williams, Shaker Heights P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.