A young Caribbean woman attempts to escape her troubled past by serving as a nanny for a North American family, an experience which inevitably forces her to confront her angst and the issues that remain from her life in the West Indies. Lucy is a young woman from the West Indies whose past is tormented by her discordant relationship with her mother and colonial oppression. She attempts to escape from her troubled life by serving as a nanny for a wealthy North American family. Although she finds herself growing close to Mariah (the matriarch) and her children, she also grapples with resentment in relation to her tumultuous relationship with her mother and the cultural despotism exercised by British rule, first evidenced by how she bitterly recalls being forced to recite William Wordsworth's "Daffodils" with her classmates before an audience to prove how the institution had "civilized" them. Upon forecasting and indirectly witnessing the infidelity committed by Lewis (Mariah's husband) with Dinah (Mariah's best friend whom Lucy disliked upon meeting her), she is forced to contemplate the similar betrayal perpetrated by her father against her mother. Additionally, she recounts how she used to sexually act out against her mother to rebel against the madonna/whore dichotomy that her mother endorsed while continuing to experiment with her sexuality in ways that would be considered promiscuous. Meanwhile, the letters that her mother writes her go unanswered and she continues to dwell on her angst until the end of the story where she discovers unsettling news in the letters that causes her anguish to cease.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked this story because it offers the perspective of an individual who has felt exploited by colonialism, sexism, and the misunderstandings that even well-meaning individuals can hold due to centuries of socialization and first world privilege.
Best scene in story:
I enjoy the scene where Lucy recounts her fling with Paul, a man whose intense feelings she does not requite and contemplates what she perceives to be his shortcomings, including the fact that he is taller than her because she thinks that heterosexual couples look better together when the female partner is taller than the male.
Opinion about the main character:
I love how Lucy's laments offer insight into the experiences of being forcibly subjected to colonialism and sexist gender standards. Her incessant pessimism and seeming brattiness can get annoying but it facilitates the story in a great way.