Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So Long A Letter

After a few scheduling and weather issues, we finally met to discuss "So Long A Letter" by Mariama Ba on February 3rd. This was the January pick for the Women's Classics at Women & Children First.

Looking at the front of the book you can see that this title has a lot of scholarly pieces written about it. It was the first book, of two, published by Ba - the 2nd one came out after her death. That means that, like a letter, you may only get one side of the story because Ba is not around to answer questions about her work.

I had not ever read a book set in the epistolary format and it worked for the telling of this story. Yes, you only get the narrator's point of view and sometimes the dialogue can be a bit forced because she has to fill you in on more details but still I liked it. I don't want to give away any major plot spoilers but this book concerns two friends and how they handled their husbands taking a 2nd wife. The leader of the group and I disagreed on how the narrator felt about her situation. I still think that the narrator was resigned to her lot in life and while she stuck up for herself after her husband's death (to not become someone else's 2nd wife) I don't think she showed that progressive nature during her marriage. It was a good discussion. There are quite a few themes in the book and many have mirrors - such as the changing country and the changing role (or at least one hopes) of women in Senegal. A short book that would make for a good reading group selection.

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