Elaine Potter Richardson was born in Antigua in 1949 and changed her name in 1973 to Jamaica Kincaid. Her writing is unabashedly about herself and her family. It is through her writing that she discovers herself; it is her therapy as well as her life's work. "Kincaid...says that she is 'trying to discover the secret of herself' in her writing" and this struggle to be known she has added some insight, fascinating literature to the world's library.
Bouson divides the book into three sections dealing with
Kincaid's mother, personal politics, and family portraits. She demonstrates the powerful relationship between mother and daughter using the books At the Bottom of the River, Annie John, and Lucy (a book which could be subtitled "Annie John the Sequel") in Part I. Kincaid views the relationship as disproportionally unbalanced with the mother holding all the power, the child as helpless. Part II analyzes A Small Place and "On Seeing England for the First Time," theorizing that Kincaid carries this conflict of power between England (the mother) and Antigua (the daughter). Lastly, the author expounds on the complex and often conflicting feelings Kincaid has for her father and brother in addition to her mother.
Despite being a rather academic book, this volume is very readable. Bouson may not deliver any new insight into Kincaid, but she collates her books and other writings into a cohesive form that will greatly interest readers who follow Kincaid's writing. Kincaid, who does not believe in healing or forgetting the injuries of the past, takes solace in her writing and her followers will find this book and enlightening and familiar in content.