Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Verso. Sept. 2019. 416p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781788735094. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781788735124. BIOG
Carby (African American studies, Yale Univ.; Cultures in Babylon) takes readers deep into her experience as a multiracial woman growing up in England and offers a thorough examination of her family history in Britain and Jamaica. The book’s first three parts are the strongest, sharing personal anecdotes from the author’s life. Carby also explores her parents’ lives before, during, and after World War II, illustrating the challenges and opportunities they faced at the time. She then traces how the lives of her Jamaican father and Welsh mother impacted her own upbringing, and how they reflected on British society. The remaining sections delve into the author’s study of her family histories, from ancestors who were railroad workers in Britain to slave owners in Jamaica. While these examinations are thorough and offer great insight, they occasionally lose the narrative power present in the work’s first half.
VERDICT This moving memoir exploring race, gender, childhood, colonialism, marriage, and immigration will be valuable for readers interested in learning more about these subjects through a personal lens.

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