Friday, February 22, 2008

Scarlet Sister Mary

Finished Scarlet Sister Mary by Julie Peterkin. From the back cover:

"Banned in Boston when it was first published in 1928, Scarlet Sister Mary is the story of a sexy, independent, and outspoken woman who lives to please herself. Abandoned by her husband, the heroine takes many lovers, loses her firstborn son, and eventually 'finds peace' as a church member, although she refuses to give up her love charm and her gold hoop earrings. Scarlet Sister Mary shocked readers with its sensual portrayal of a black woman's private life, but it was universally lauded for its honesty and courage. The first edition sold more than one million copies worldwide, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1929."

I really enjoyed this book. Peterkin has a very clear sense of all her characters and how they interact in this small community. It's been interesting to read this book while also reading Uncle Tom's Cabin. Both books incorporate a large amount of religion to illustrate good vs evil, but they employ it in indifferent ways. In Uncle Tom's Cabin evil is illustrated with sins of cruelty, where as Sister Mary is a sinner by means of carnal sin. I'm amused that the book was banned in Boston. As I read it I kept trying to figure out what was so wrong with it. Certainly characters in literature perform this sin all the time. Look at Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary. Sister Mary is happy with her lot in life and sins for the sake of pleasure, but she is a good, kind person. She is eventually punished for her sins and repents of them, so what's the problem?

No comments: